Over the last week or so, I’ve heard quite a bit of talk about a simple alternative to the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions. Instead of a resolution, you’re encouraged to choose one word for your new year. But I’ll get back to that in just a little bit, because thinking about choosing a word for 2014 got me thinking about 2013.
And frankly, 2013 wasn’t my best year.
One year ago today I felt like I was staring down the barrel of a gun. The celebration of the Christmas season and the New Year had been overshadowed by the reality of my recent cancer diagnosis and what was looming ahead. Bright and early on January 2, 2013, Jim and I made the 25-mile trek to Northwestern Memorial in Chicago for the first of many chemotherapy infusions. To say my heart was filled with dread is a bit of an understatement.
But during those dread-filled days that preceded the start of my treatment, the Lord ministered to me with such grace. The scripture and songs of the Christmas season provided a sense of peace I had not experienced before. I found such comfort and joy in the message of the incarnation and in the words of the Christmas carols that we spent so much time listening to.
“Fear not then,” said the Angel,
“Let nothing you affright,
This day is born a Savior
Of a pure Virgin bright,
To free all those who trust in Him
From Satan’s power and might.”
O tidings of comfort and joy,
Comfort and joy
O tidings of comfort and joy
Words like these were such a comfort.
This past Christmas felt so very different. I constantly found my thoughts drawn to “last year at this time,” and my heart was filled with such gratitude. The last few weeks have been such a wonderful season of celebrating Christ’s birth and the beginning of a New Year. In the midst of the joy of Christmas and in spite of the ongoing uncertainty surrounding my health, my mind was drawn repeatedly to the question of hope.
Hope is a word that is tossed about so freely and easily. We hope for all kinds of things…good health, happy children, peace in our families, and so much more. It’s not wrong to hope for such things, but as hard as we try, we can never ensure that our hopes will be realized. When hope is rooted in shaky foundations, it often disappoints. But there IS a hope that is certain.
These last few weeks, I have thought a lot about the birth of Jesus. The Incarnation of Emmanuel—God with us.
The Word (God) became flesh and made His dwelling among us. (John 1:14)
When sin entered the world, man’s relationship with God was broken. Hope was lost. But from the beginning God had a desire—and a plan—to restore the broken relationship. And to restore hope. His plan was centered on the birth of a baby in a manger. If Jesus had not come there would be NO hope. Through Jesus’ birth, his life, his death and his resurrection, our certain hope was revealed. Christmas is all about hope.
How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.
No ear may hear His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him still,
The dear Christ enters in.
Through the gift of Jesus, God himself came to earth so that we could have life and hope.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
What a wondrous gift!
So…back to my one word for 2014. My word is, yep, you guessed it, HOPE.
During the year ahead I want to become more firmly grounded in the hope that is mine through Christ. I want to think about it, study it, and sing about it. I want to know it and experience it to its fullest. I am so thankful that 2014 is getting off to a better start than 2013 did. But we never know what a day—or a year—will bring. And when the next trial comes, I want to be clinging to hope.
What’s your one word for 2014?