The year 2020 may have left you emotionally fragile. I know it left me that way.
And, 2021 is getting off to quite a shaky start, too.
Many of the props I used to turn to for identity, strength and comfort have been taken away. Not being able to return to my home country and see my family and meet my grandson has been really tough. I know COVID has affected others in even deeper ways-- with many being very sick and with the deaths of so many loved ones.
Collectively, we have all dealt with a pandemic that we didn't expect and that has reminded us that life is fragile.
That we aren't in control.
That we can't make things happen the way we want them to happen.
In addition, there has been instability in politics and governments (both in my passport country and in the country where I live) that has caused turmoil, heartbreak and a constant sense of tension.
And, maybe, like me, your life took some unexpected turns. When I look back at this date one year ago, I had no idea what all was in store for me. Perhaps you have been rocked by grief, heartbreak and trauma, as well.
Trauma has made my heart race and my hands shake. There were many days when my joints and tendons ached and it was hard to grip anything. Perhaps you are already aware that The Body Keeps the Score and that it is not uncommon for heart pain to turn into physical pain.
Anxiety has resulted in many sleepless nights. Grief has made my world become smaller as many of the normal things I used to do feel overwhelming. Often, my pain has been all I could think about. Tears became a familiar companion this past year.
At one point, I was very frustrated at my tears and that I couldn't seem to "pull myself together." I knew that God wasn't looking at me in frustration, though. In order to remind myself of truth, I put out the largest bottle I had in my house as I reminder that every single tear was seen and acknowledged by my Creator (Psalm 56:8.) How thankful I am that the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3) cares about my pain and anxiety. He is not asking us to pretend like we are strong.
He asks us for a very different response.
In the words of Jesus, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."
When we bring our poor spirits and our grieving hearts to our Father, He comforts us and reminds us of His kingdom. He gives us new vision.
God listens when we pour out our pain and He listens even when we don't have words for our pain. I was surprised this last year to find that I couldn't even put words to my grief, but that I could paint. I learned that I could have a conversation with God as I picked up a paintbrush. Often, I would start in despair, but God would remind me of His promises as I prayed and painted.
Eventually, I would be reminded of His mercy and grace pouring over me.
When the ground beneath our feet starts to move, I'm learning that God is still a solid rock. May we remind each other and comfort each other with these words during the year ahead:
"Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe." (Hebrews 12:28)
There is something in us (pride, I think!) that wants to be in control and wants to be strong. But, the truth is that none of us has it together. We are all in need of a Saviour. God has had to remind me over and over this year that His grace is sufficient and that His power is made perfect in my weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9.)
May we continue to remind each other that it is okay to feel fragile. It's okay to be weak.
The One who created us and loves us and rescues us is very strong.