• Hope Butcher

New Year, Better Year?

I'm coming into this new year with a certain hopefulness. It's a different kind of hopefulness than I've led with before. Most people start out their year with high expectations of remarkable experiences and new adventures. To be honest, 2018 knocked some of the wind out of me and I'm just hoping this year is "better than average" and that I can take some big long naps. Not really. I am hopeful of some new experiences (and a vacation) but mostly I'm looking forward to growing in a deeper understanding of Jesus and who He is. That's really what the past year has been about for me (as far as everything else is concerned, can we just have maybe a degree of boring?).

This past year began a part of this journey like I've never experienced before. Frankly, I didn't even see it coming. This year I received text messages at 5 am that hit me right between the eyes, news from loved ones and doctors that made my life seem like someone else's, unresolved conflicts with people I thought were the closest to me, phone calls that uprooted aspects of my life that I took as foundational, words and labels assigned to me by people who don't really know anything about me.

I had a conversation with my sister Emma (get to know her here!) the other day regarding this time last year. I remember praying in the new year of 2018 declaring that 2018 would be a year of new beginnings and answered prayers. I was eager to shake off 2017 and never look back. Little did I know that I would face things this year that would try to shake me to my foundations-- things that if I had seen them coming would have left me hopeless and terrified. If measuring our trials really mattered, I would say this year was even worse, in some aspects, than the last. But that's not all I discovered. 

He had other unexpected things waiting for me this year. In 2018 I have learned the depths of the love of my faithful, heavenly Father, a love that runs deeper than the ocean. Where humanity has failed me in so many ways, He has been more real to me than ever before in my life. I have seen aspects of Him that would never have been revealed through any other circumstances. I have whispered and called to His ever-present Holy Spirit probably on a daily basis and I think to myself, how does anyone make it without Him?

I grieve when I think that some people attempt to walk through this life without the Comforter, the wrap-around presence of Jesus by their side. I grieve when I consider that life on this earth shows no favoritism, no one gets out unscathed. We all face serious disappointment, we all become acquainted with death. This world is no respecter of persons and we need His Spirit, every moment. I see people all around me trying to face their year of tragedies and chaos by clinging to fleeting moments of pleasure, clinging to man-made, meaningless coping mechanisms. I see people around me trying to fill that gigantic other-worldly emptiness with frail, small, weak fixes-- things that were created by another lost person trying to fix their own lostness. We need Him. 

I thought I knew Him best back in 2017. The trials I had faced before taught me to call out to Him. I never saw 2018 coming and I'm so thankful that in every single one of those moments when secret tears were welling up in my eyes, when yelling at my family from a place of desperation wasn't going to bring peace, when the devil crept in during those first hours of morning with his same old tactics of fear and anxiety...I could just whisper, "Holy Spirit come...Holy Spirit, I need you right now...(deep breath)...Holy Spirit, here." And He was there, in an instant, my Comforter, my Peace Speaker.

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