Last week I turned fifty-two. Fifty-two! When my dad called to wish me a happy birthday, he asked if I felt any older and I told him that I didn’t know what fifty-two was supposed to feel like, but that I didn’t feel old! Don’t get me wrong, there are days I do, but overall, being in my fifties isn’t as “old” as it seemed it was when I was in my twenties! And now, with another year under my belt, (what a year it’s been for us all!), a few more grey hairs have arrived to suggest some wisdom has been acquired and valuable lessons learned through what was probably the most challenging year of our lives.
Fifty-two Weeks Ago
Last April, we were all adjusting to quarantine and wondering what the future held for us and our loved ones, neighbors and communities. My husband had ordered my birthday gift online and we went to “curbside pick-up” since the stores were not allowing people inside. We drove down empty streets that only a few weeks ago teemed with activity. Even the nearby college campus (that we pass frequently) typically bustling with students, was now a ghost town. It was all very surreal. The usually packed mall was empty. Super weird. It felt like we were living in an apocalyptic movie! I know you all have your stories that ring very similar to mine. We, along with the rest of the world, waited with bated breath for the next bad report, the other shoe to drop, the closure of another state. It seemed the world had come to a standstill. But as we all know, whether in quarantine or not, life marches on.
On The Personal Side
My youngest daughter graduated high school by walking across the stage, picking up her diploma and proceeding off. No traditional pomp and circumstance with her graduating class. No large crowd in attendance to cheer them on. My son graduated from AIT (Advanced Individual Training, Army) in May and married in October. My oldest daughter announced we were going to be grandparents. My second eldest daughter and her hubby began to try and figure out what life as missionaries during quarantine would look like. And, my husband and I celebrated our thirtieth anniversary in July! Now, on the surface, these life events, as you read them, seem normal, some even exciting, but what you don’t see are the challenges within each event. The painful awareness that my youngest daughter would never get that moment back—her senior year had been ripped from her. The willy-nilly of the unknown wondering if my son would be able to graduate and come home because Base was under quarantine. Not to mention the stress they faced planning a wedding during that time. The rush to get my oldest daughter up to Canada to her husband (he’s a Canadian and his Visitors Visa had expired the previous November) before the borders closed in March. Watching my second eldest daughter and her husband float along in-limbo, being unable to give them any guidance other than to just wait. Our anniversary was a beautiful day planned by our kids, with just us and it was wonderful, but I had always dreamed of having a big vow-renewal ceremony for the big number thirty. Blessings within trials. Trial within blessings.
What A Year
These and other challenges and adversities, along with all the worries and the pressing issues, moved me to seek comfort and hope on a whole new level. I was compelled to seek God in a way that one does in desperation—whole-heartedly and fervently for strength, solace, and assurance. Each time, God met me there for he is faithful. I was consistently reassured by his Word. Scripture like this one was a balm to my soul; “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” Psalm 46:1-3 NIV (Emphasis mine) This is a beautiful reminder that no matter what we face here, God is with us! What a consolation! Can you relate to feeling shaken, as one most likely would feel if the earth were giving way and the waters roaring with mountains quaking? But thankfully God is still God and he is not shaken! He alone is our refuge. He alone is our strength. He alone can help us find moments to treasure in the midst of our most trying times and our most challenging years. Allow God to reveal himself to you, where you are, in the midst of your mess and know he is with you for he is faithful! Clinging to Jesus’ promise here; “And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”” Matthew 28:20b NIV
Wisdom nugget from me; “Through the pandemic, one thing has become ever so clear, even more-so than it ever was before and that is this; Life is precious. We are not promised tomorrow so make the most out of each moment and treasure them in your heart! Seek the blessings in the trials!”
More Scripture to Encourage You
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (Jesus speaking) John 16:33 NIV
I’ll never forget the trouble, the utter lostness, the taste of ashes, the poison I’ve swallowed. I remember it all—oh, how well I remember—the feeling of hitting the bottom. But there’s one other thing I remember, and remembering, I keep a grip on hope: God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning. How great your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left. Lamentations 3:19-24 MSG