“Return to your stronghold, o prisoners of hope;
today I declare that I will restore to your double.”
All of you dear friends that have been journeying with us in 2016 know it was a year of trial and sorrow in a lot of ways (if you didn’t know, just refer to my last post!), but you know what I see looking back at 2016? Hope. The hope that never stops burning in the midst of sorrow, sadness, struggle, suffering; hope eternal that I have in Jesus! Looking back at 2016, I see that even though on those difficult and desperate days, it has been His nearness that has been my good in 2016.
I read through the Bible in a year for the first time this past year, and this past week as I was approaching the finish line, the verse above from the book of Zechariah sliced right through me, deep to my heart: even in the middle of what can feel like a prison of difficult circumstance, He is calling us to return to Him, our stronghold, so that we may be restored; we are never without hope.
In my journey of reading through the Bible, I used an audio Bible app, and I wanted to finish up my last day of reading before the stroke of midnight. So, Colby and I sat on the couch together, kids all asleep, neighbors fireworks glittering outside our windows, toasting glasses poured and ready, and we closed out the year with the words of hope that our Jesus, he will return for us! And every tear will be wiped away, every wrong made right, every hurt healed eternally for all those that are in Him. And this is the hope that presses us forward into 2017.
It’s another year of mystery for us as a family as Colby finishes up his second year of his residency at the Austin Stone, and we wait with anticipation to see where the Lord will take us to do ministry next. Eden will start kindergarten this year and join in with Judah, growing up into “big kids”. We continue to pour as many resources as the Lord provides into helping Titus to catch up and develop and grow into the fullest potential that God has for him. There are a lot of unanswered questions, and so we wait in hope.
As the last reading of my Bible-in-a-year finished up a few minutes before midnight, one of my favorite old hymns began to play, “Be Still My Soul”, and I could not think of a better prayer, reflecting on 2016 and looking toward 2017 with hope:
Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side;
Bear patiently the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heavenly, Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.
Be still, my soul; thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.
Be still, my soul; the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul; when change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.
I cannot think of a better way to wish you a Happy New Year in 2017 than to use the words of the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 13:14:
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Love of God,
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.