Happy New Year?


Warning: quite a heavy post ahead.

My husband’s grandfather died last month.

A friend lost his mom this month.

My son’s teacher lost her mother this month, too.

My helper’s brother died from a freak accident at work.

A four-year-old fell from the balcony of their home.

Families mourn over deaths in Mindanao because of a recent storm.

Marawi’s war is over but their rebuilding had only just begun.

Amtrak derailed this month, too, and resulted to three deaths.

Syria is still happening.


How much of the world’s aches are we not even counting in this list? And how can I have the courage to greet these people and places merry Christmas? Moreover, how can I say happy new year? What do they have to look forward to?


Let me back track myself.


I opened this year with a bad case of dengue, which forced me to celebrate the 3rd birthday of my son tied to an IV. I closed a two month old start-up shortly after, and found out I was pregnant with the third baby. Four weeks into it, I discovered that I was to have the second missed abortion in my life. (This is the correct clinical term, instead of miscarriage because I lost the baby during early term.)

Sometime in May, I encountered student visa problems where all I could do was wait. All the while I had to push through with my masteral requirements, even if it meant wasted effort should I be refused to enter. Needless to say, the suspense was distressing. And all of these happened before August that it felt as though I reached my tragedy quota for 2017 and was ready to close it. I was obviously exhausted to have been lambasted by the storms of life so early and so quickly into it.


(I eventually got the visa and that was another story altogether. Received passport Friday night, flew to Illinois Saturday night, went to class Monday morning.)


The Joy of the LORD?

In this post I began with the stories of others. Then, I told a little bit about myself. I am guessing it got you thinking of your own whips from 2017, too. It does not matter when it happened, but remembering tragedies can readily sting the heart and steal the joy and hope that Christ came to bring.


Yet the Bible says, “…the joy of the LORD is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10), and not “you have strength so you can have joy.” God is not expecting joy that comes from a place of strength, but weakness that taps joy that will lead to strength.


So many times, in the movies or in real life, I hear people say to those going through ordeals, “You just need to be strong.” But God seems to say some things differently. Not only does He tell us to tap joy so to find that strength, but actually asks us to be glad in our weaknesses for there His power is made perfect, there His grace is sufficient, there we are also made strong (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).


Is it not that the last things we want to hear when we are going through something terrible are “It will be fine,” “You can do it,” “Be strong.” Even Jesus took the time to weep, though He knew in a moment, He would be raising his friend back to life. Even Jesus cried for His Father to take the cup away from Him, though He knew resurrection awaits Him at the end of it all. One thing about God and the Bible I love the most is how understood, comforted, and victorious we are all at the same time. Isn’t it a beautiful thing that in Him, we are not asked to be god, but only to be vulnerable, helpless, empty children who are ready to be filled, healed, changed, lifted, before Him?


2018 is only a few days away. I am praying for all of us who carry tragedies in our hearts. Some have it graver than us or than others, I know, but all the same I pray God be with us.


In the slump of our year may God be ever so present. I won’t ask us to look ahead, or to think hope for now, but only that God is there and He is strong, and we are weak, and we ask for joy. Let’s not pretend we know our way out of here, but let’s trust that He will eventually reveal. But for now, let Him minister His love and comfort in our sorrows.


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