Here we are. At the start of a new year, waiting to see what it may bring. Filled with fears and dreams for the year ahead. Today holds the chance to begin again, we walk into a year yet to be tarnished, bursting with possibilities. But we carry with us the weight of all the years that have gone before. Some heavier than others.
I don’t know what path your life has taken up to this point, what story you would tell if we were to listen. I can imagine there have been times of great joy and laughter, but also days marked by pain and sorrow. I’m sure you can measure the years of your life in both successes and failures. Maybe you have known the wonder of dreams come true, or perhaps you have been stung by disappointment. There will be people who grew and nurtured you, whilst others left you scarred. You might have felt God with you each step or the journey or felt lost and abandoned by Him.There will be days that you still look back and celebrate, alongside those you try to forget.
For me, 2014 was the year where I got a glimpse of the bigger picture of my life. We can be quick to tell each other, when times are hard, that God will work through all things for our good. But if I’m honest, it’s something I’ve struggled to see in my own life. I found some of my old journals over Christmas and it took me back to difficult times in my life. Years clouded by a depression so dark I couldn’t see a way through. Times where I was crying out to a God who felt so distant and angry, trying to trust in His goodness despite the hard reality of life. Where the future looked bleak and I doubted how God could ever use me, broken as I was.
However, now, from brighter days, I can see that God is in the business of redemption.
This was brought home to me when I saw ‘Hope Whispers‘ published on the TWLOHA blog, and read the comments from readers across the globe. People who had somehow found hope in the words I had written. It was humbling to see how God could use the painful times in my life for good, in ways I would not have predicted. I got a glimpse of how He will create beauty where before there was only ashes. It was a picture of what I know God has been doing throughout my life, transforming me day by day.
To redeem means to exchange one thing for another, to buy back or to make amends for. As Christians we often talk about Jesus as our redeemer who through his death exchanged our sin for his grace and forgiveness. We know redemption in the context of the wider story of creation, as a process that saves us from our sins and makes us right with God. We don’t often think about in terms of our everyday lives.
But what if we understood that God can and will redeem every situation in our lives? Does it change how we look at our suffering, if we believe God is in the business of redemption?
Perhaps some things won’t be fully redeemed this side of heaven, but I believe God won’t wait till then to start. There is no situation too dark to be beyond redemption.
I’ve recently read a book call ‘One Light Still Shines’, it’s written by an inspiring lady called Marie Monville. She was married to Charlie Roberts, who was responsible for the Amish Schoolhouse shooting, killing five girls before killing himself. Just one week after her world fell apart in such a shocking way she spoke these words:
“Among the many things I understand more deeply now than I did a week ago is the role of God as my Redeemer…Over these past few days, God has been replacing my weakness with his strength, the ugliness of sin with the beauty of forgiveness, the blackest darkness with his brilliant light. As impossible as it may seem, I am walking in confidence in God’s ability to repair each broken place in our lives and to restore our lives so that they are once again characterized by hope and joy.”
Nothing is beyond God’s redeeming touch. Not illness, sin, heartache, loss or grief. Not even death. As we stand at the start of a new year, lets take a minute to look at our lives through the lens of redemption. Let’s acknowledge just how much God has already redeemed in our lives, and look for the signs of Him at work in the situations we are facing now.
I don’t know what 2015 will hold for us. I hope and pray it will be a year filled with blessings, joy and laughter. But if the storms do come, take comfort from knowing our God can and will redeem all things. Nothing we will face is beyond his power.
” For I know that my redeemer lives, and in the end he will stand on the earth” Job 19:25