Those were the two words that the Lord gave me for 2016. Coming into the new year with more questions than answers, worn out and ready for change, I needed something to remind myself everyday that He was making a way even when I could not see it.
And the first few weeks of the new year proved this to be true. God showed up, opened doors, and I was able to step into a new season that was so desperately needed. I was relieved and thankful and excited.
Confident hope. Keep hoping, keep believing, keep trusting because no one who puts their hope in Him will be put to shame.
But now here we are on the last day of the year, and between those first few weeks in January and today, confident hope did not seem to always be the theme of my life. So much of 2016 did not go as I had originally planned. Most of my new year intentions have gone unchecked, and many of my goals for this year were replaced by a time-consuming path I was asked to follow that I never really wanted.
And it is easy for me to feel like I am failing at everything. To get frustrated with myself for not doing more.
So I found myself asking God why confident hope? Those words made sense in January when it really seemed like things were looking up but do not seem to make as much sense today when I look back and see how much did not work out this year. How much I did not accomplish and how much did not change.
We have become really good at putting too much pressure on ourselves going into a new year. We want so badly to be these better versions of ourselves in twelve months only to end up running ourselves ragged trying to accomplish the sometimes incredibly unrealistic goals that we have set for ourselves. “This is going to be my year” we say, and then when life inevitably happens, we end up feeling discouraged and disappointed and as if we are completely messing up our chances of becoming everything that we were meant to be.
But the truth is that God does not exist within our concept and understanding of time. He is not limited by a twelve-month box, and we are not left to our own devices on January 1st to figure out how to do everything we think we need to do within the calendar year to please Him and to move forward with our lives.
He is constantly moving and working. Doing a million little things that we cannot see. His ways are higher than our ways, and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. Man made systems of tracking time do not hinder Him or change the plans that He has for our lives.
So you did not accomplish everything you wanted to this year?
Every single day of your life is a day for grace. A day to start fresh, to begin again, to recognize that His mercies are new.
Every single day is a day for confident hope.
Not necessarily a hope that circumstances will suddenly change although God is more than able, but a hope that Jesus is as good as He said He is.
The reality is that 2017 might not be the “best year of your life.” Not by society’s standards anyway. Unexpected things will happen. You will probably experience some really high highs and some really low lows, and that’s okay.
Life is hard, and this next year will inevitably be filled with hard things. Difficult decisions. Painful experiences.
You might get to the end of the year and realize that you did not accomplish all of your goals. And it is tempting to fall into the trap of feeling like you did not do enough.
But friends, sometimes working, or going to school, or being a mother or a father or an aunt or daughter or sister or friend is more than enough.
Sometimes putting one foot in front of the other every day, no matter how slowly you feel you are moving, is more than enough.
Losing weight, running marathons, getting richer, advancing in your career, etc are not measuring sticks for the success of your year.
You’re allowed to rest and take care of yourself. To spend time with people you love and prioritize what really matters and maybe watch too many hours of Netflix one day.
And it’s okay to show yourself some grace. To be kind to yourself. And to let yourself and 2017 off the hook. Every single day does not have to be the best you have ever experienced.
I hope you have all had a few days to spend praying and reflecting and thinking about the new year. I pray that the Lord speaks to you individually and gives you your own words for the year, something that gives you a sure footing as we say goodbye to 2016.
I pray that you give yourself space to try, fail, and try again in 2017 without fear of getting off track or ruining everything because friend, you are not powerful enough to mess up God’s will for your life – all He needs is your surrendered heart and your “yes” to whatever He asks.
And may a confident hope in the Lord settle deeply into your heart. A hope that He turns beauty into ashes, that He brings life to dead things, that He can turn things to good and has ordered your steps.
In the doubts and pain and uncertainty and highs and lows of 2016, He was good.
And in the doubts and pain and uncertainty and highs and lows of 2017, He will still be good.
We have this hope as an anchor for our souls.
Jesus is as good as we ever hoped He was.