The end of the year is in sight and whilst some of us can't wait to dive into the New Year, there are some of us who struggle with the thought. The fact is life has not worked out the way they planned. For there seems to be a huge disparity between what they hoped for and the realities of their earthy plights. At times, it seems they face battle after battle - some they win, some they loose and some just never seem to end. And so, is it any surprise that the looming year end seems to give rise to many discouraged hearts and troubled souls?
As I write, I remember a sister who had been single for the best part of a decade with no man to write home about. Like many, she never thought she would still be single whilst rapidly heading towards forty yet here she was – still single. Year in, year out, she fasted, prayed, read books, attended seminars, joined the prayer lines, kept herself pure yet no man in sight. Over the years, discouragement started to set in along with signs of a troubled soul with thoughts like, "Is the problem with me?", "Will I ever get married?", "Does God Care?", "Is God still able?" floating about. Unbeknown to her was the extent of her issues until she caught her heart saying, "Yeah right, whatever!" when some well-wishers declared to her, "this is your year" at her churches annual December 31st service.
But that's just one case of how some of us may be really feeling whilst hiding behind our 'Sunday' mask (Proverbs 14:13 "Laughter can conceal a heavy heart, but when the laughter ends, the grief remains" NLT). And the stories continue of many hopes that seem to be deferred or dashed. By the nature of one of the areas I minister in, I meet many wounded souls carrying pain from their yesterdays and yesteryears. For instance:
• The young lady carrying unresolved issues as a result of an absent father whilst growing up.
• The single mum who can't get over the sexual abuse she experienced.
• The young lady who has been in and out of hospital though she had been trusting God for her healing for years.
• The frustrated professional who remains jobless after many years.
• The mother disappointed with God after her child is diagnosed with autism.
• The married mother in her fifties who frequently breaks down – blaming herself for her mothers suicide.
• The pensioner who continues to suffer abuse from her disabled partner whilst still having to care for him full time
As you can see these are real people with real issues. They attend church like you and I. Once upon a time there was a song in their heart - one which has now faded away.
Maybe you can relate to one of these stories I mentioned. Or maybe your story is different but, like them, you have become discouraged, troubled and weary in waiting. You have wondered where God is, in all of this and whether He really cares. Perhaps the looming year end has caused unrest within your soul. You look at your situation and you feel you have no reason to celebrate much less look towards the future.
Well, I want to start off by declaring according to Jeremiah 31:17 that, "There is a hope in your future" (NLT). Regardless of the weeping, hurt, pain or disappointment you have faced, God will wipe away your tears. Where you are today is no reflection of how God feels towards you. You belong to Him and He cares about everything concerning you.
In terms of moving forward, whilst you may not be able to change your situation, you can do a number of things:
• Stop Carrying The weight - As the scripture suggests, give your burdens to God. Your shoulders were never meant to carry all that stuff. So hand it over to God by telling Him about your situation and the impact on you. Tell Him like it is because God can handle anything (Psalm 55:22, Matthew 11:28-30, Philippians 4:6-7 and 1 Peter 5:7).
• Ask Him To Heal You From Your Experiences - The scriptures are littered with Gods promise of healing. Embrace them and hold Him to His Word (Exodus 15:26, Jeremiah 30:17, and Luke 4:18).
• Hope Again - Learn to trust God and believe again, regardless of the outcome (Habakkuk 3:17-19). God still has the power to turn your situation around (Luke 1:37). Accept that God is still in control and He still reigns (Job 19:25).
• Fix Your Attitudes - Whilst you might not be able to change the situation, you can change your outlook. Do you worry and or get anxious? We already know that our worrying makes no difference (Matthew 6:25-34). So why bother? Leave it all in His hands.
In closing, take comfort from the words of Jude 2 that says, "Relax, everything's going to be all right; rest, everything's coming together; open your hearts, love is on the way!" (MSG). My prayer is that God will make your heart sing once more as you realise there is, indeed, a hope for your future.