I have been trying to think of the Scripture that best sums up this year. While I am tempted to use John 11:35 ("Jesus Wept") because of how frequently I wept over Migraines, struggles, loss and the other difficult realities of life, I am convinced that the better verse to sum up my year is found in Romans 5: 1-4 (The Message)
"We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand—out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary—we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!"
Yes, while at first glance, 2012 appears to be one that was filled up with pain, I can confidently say that when I look at my year in total that it is filled with hope and joy. Any pain that I experienced during this year, God Himself has been able to use to produce growth in me. As the NIV says, "suffering produce(d) perseverance, perseverance, character; and character, hope. And Hope never puts us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us."
Where you would have like to have seen me write that suffering produced pain, and pain produced anxiety; and anxiety, despair, instead I can confidently say that I am grateful for each experience which has been allowed me during 2012. It is those experiences and my ability to come through them which have taught me that there is always hope and that even the hardest things that occur in my life can bring great good.
Yes, I had unmanageable Migraines, but because of them, I have made some life long friends who I would have never met otherwise. Because of them, I have a doctor who I trust and value. Because of them, I have had to travel to see that doctor and have, as a result, gotten to know my dear first cousin and his family. Because of the trials of this year, I have had the good fortune of learning that joy is something that is not dependent on my circumstances but upon my relationship with God Himself. Because of my Migraines, I have had time to listen to beautiful music, read good books, consider the wonder of friendship, to bathe in the blessing of family, and to try to serve others who are suffering.
Because of the trials of this year, I have re-realized the unimaginable treasure of people I love and the time I get to spend with them. Because of this year, I know that every day is a gift. Because of this year, I can face 2013 without fear because I have seen the proof of the good that can come out of difficulty and pain.
So, 2012, thank you. Thank you for each day and each experience. Thank you for bringing me to 2013 where I expect to continue to fill up that container mentioned in Romans 5 with even more blessings, more hope, more victory and more certainty that God does have a good plan for me. Will there be pain in 2013? Yes, it's inevitable, and I don't look forward to it. I cannot minimize the severity of some of the physical and emotional pain that I am bound to experience this year any more than I can minimize that of the past year.
However, I survived.
And I will continue to survive,
and survival will be laced with gratitude and hope
for I know that even in the most difficult circumstances,
good can and will grow. I stand in alert expectancy - seeking what God has to reveal to me during this year. And for that, I will give all glory and praise to Him!