January 1. This is the time of year that we dwell in nostalgia and ponder the future. We set goals and dream dreams. Sometimes we mourn. Often we wonder.
2014 was a year of intense emotions for me. Contentment and rest ruled as early retirement allowed me time to research for a book, interview interesting people as a journalistic writer for a small magazine, and write Bible studies for our church college ministry. Anticipation tides were high as I helped my daughter, Chelsey, with wedding plans; we were finally going to have a son! Sorrow engulfed quickly when my mom died five days before Chelsey’s wedding.
During the week of Mom’s death and Chelsey’s wedding, I felt the Eagle’s wings of Isaiah 40 beneath me . . . lifting, soaring, carrying.
It is possible to experience deep sorrow and overwhelming joy all at the same time.
Joy was the focal point. We rejoiced that my mom had no more sorrow, no more pain, no more tears. We smiled as we remembered that Mom had adamantly insisted that she would be at the wedding, despite the fact that she lived eight hours away and could not get out of bed without major assistance. We were overjoyed to consider that indeed she would have the best seat in the house at the wedding . . . a heavenly perspective. When the back doors to the outdoor ceremony blew open just as we began, there were giggles. Nona Katie had arrived; she was always late.
Happiness reigned that wedding day.
We tingled with it. We radiated the hope and peace that filled us. We experienced Psalm 126:4 “Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.”
This week as I ponder another year, I am reading through the book of Jeremiah. Jeremiah is known as the “weeping prophet.” The Israelites were taken from their beloved country of Judah into captivity in Babylon. Yet, in the midst of it, God offers reasons for hope and joy.
God would protect their souls. He used their time in captivity to draw them to Himself. “I will give them hearts that recognize me as the Lord. They will be my people, and I will be their God, for they will return to me wholeheartedly.” Jeremiah 24: 5-7.
Similarly, as I reflect back on the week that my mom died and my daughter was married, I see God’s soul protection. Perhaps the very sorrow of the week made the rejoicing deeper. Perhaps the reminder of the brevity of life reminded us to love each other well and to enjoy each and every day we are given. Certainly, when the thunder boomed right as the outdoor ceremony started, God had our attention. We waited; He cleared the skies. The double rainbow was symbolic of the week . . . sun and rain, hope in storms, joy in sorrow. God gave us hearts to recognize that He is the Lord, and He reigns over all.
As we contemplate the beginning of another New Year, let this promise be our hearts’ hope and joy regardless of the circumstances and emotions that transpire:
The Lord crowns the year with His goodness. Psalm 65:11.