The New Year is a wonderfully invigorating time. It’s so empowering to be able to ‘reset’ your life, to hope anew, to re-make plans.
Yet as lovely as it is, sometimes we don’t have the emotional (or physical) energy to look forward. There are seasons where life has worn us down and we don’t dare envision a better year ahead.
In chronic illness, there is often no healing to look forward to. Only the hard reality that this is just going to get worse. Even in diseases which aren’t degenerative, times goes on, bodies get older, and circumstances get more difficult.
Perhaps this year you are in this camp. The ‘I find it hard to have hope’ camp. The ‘there are not going to be any brighter futures for me’ camp.
If this is the case, I’m not going to try and convince you that you’re wrong. That you should hardheadedly believe that ‘things WILL get better’.
Instead, I’m going to recommend that instead of celebrating Beginnings this New Year, you celebrate Endings.
3 reasons you should celebrate Endings this New Year
Nothing you lived through this past year will ever come again!
If there’s one thing we can all celebrate it’s that the hardships of this present year are over. These particular trials will never burden you again. Life is fluid. Nothing stays the same. No agonies go on forever in the exact same way as they did before.
This encourages me, because as each year goes by we become better equipped to survive (and, at times, thrive in) life’s challenges. With each year we have 365 days more experience under our belt, twelve months more knowledge of what it means to live under Jesus, fifty-two weeks more investment in relationships and community.
It doesn’t matter whether you feel you made the best use of this period or not. Next time you fall into tragedy you will be better equipped simply because you are older and richer in experience.
One day chronic illness will end, just as this year is ending!
Celebrating the end of the year is a great way of reminding ourselves that one day chronic illness will end. Just as we will never see 2018 again (unless you’ve invented some sort of time travel device? Anyone?), one day you will never see chronic illness again.
One day you will not Watch as your loved one groans in pain. One day you will never feel the dull, heavy pound of a migraine.
One day there will be no need for this blog.
What hope! Friends, it seems so far away at times, this Day when God will make all things new. Still, I hold it out to you to admire. If you can’t bear to celebrate a brighter future on this earth, celebrate that one day this earth will end, and the brightest Future will be here.
You can celebrate the concluding chapters of this year, because you are not alone in doing so!
It can seem dismal to cling to the promise of an ending rather than the hope of a conclusion.
You may feel at odds with all the world this New Year as you try and sticky-tape together a joy and hope you do not feel. The fireworks and the parties can make celebrating endings very depressing indeed.
Still, if you look closely into the remnants of 2018, you are not sitting in the rubble alone. The Bible continually reminds us that our God lives in the aftermath.
The consummation of His plan to save the world took place on a cross that nobody would mistake as a symbol for new life.
Our God dwells in the ending of the story as much as the beginning. For three days He was in the grave. He did not skip the conclusion of His earthly journey. He waited it out, and because of that we know it is okay to wait in the conclusion of 2018.
There is hope in the aftermath.
This is a phrase I love dearly – because however dark an ending we may experience, we are not alone. Films often skip the aftermath of tragedy, but we don’t need to, because there is hope in all our aftermaths.
In fact, we all live in the aftermath of the Cross, and it is because of this that we need not be afraid of endings.
What will you celebrate this year?
Some years I celebrate New Years Eve with friends, other times alone with a book. One memorable year I worked night shift.
Some years I have the energy to rejoice in the dawning of a new period of life. Other times it’s all I can do to close my eyes and pray desperately: ‘make this coming year better.’
I’ve celebrated both beginnings and endings and I am not ashamed of either, because my Jesus is both the true Beginning and the true End.
Whatever you choose to celebrate this year, relax in the knowledge that there is no wrong choice if you do so with Jesus.
The year before last I wrote about what to do if chronic illness won’t let you celebrate the New Year.
A last note:
This year has probably had some of the greatest ups and downs of my life. During a low point I wrote what I like to call “a creed” although it is really more of a reminder, a chant that I can re-read when neither endings and beginnings have any appeal whatsoever.
I include it below, because New Years Eve only lasts one day, and the shine of 2019 will wear off pretty quickly – leaving us with a lot of ‘just living’ to do!
May your 2019 be one in which you are able to delight in Truth and Hope.
I believe in the immutability of Design.
I believe in the brokenness of my Saviour.
I believe in the immovable City which awaits in Eternity.
And so I am not ravished by regret, agonized by anger, or destroyed by death.
These things hurt and slice and cripple, but I hold onto this:
I believe in the immutability of Design,
The inevitability of Grace,
And the depth of love contained in the body of a Lamb and the soul of God.
So, flattened, I will creep on,
Reduced, I will sing in the dawn,
And when all is ripped away and tears are my only friend,
I will see the shape of the cross,
and though vanquished in the mire I will travel on.
For I believe in the immutability of Design and the inevitability of my destination.
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