For some of you, the end of 2016 was an exciting time and there is great joy and anticipation for what lies ahead in 2017. For others, we are not sure where 2016 went. Life is beyond hectic and overwhelming staring into 2017. It is almost as if we are barely holding on.
That is where I find myself; holding on. This past summer my wife and I went to the doctor to discover the gender of our third child. What was supposed to be a joyful moment quickly turned to helplessness and fear. We learned of a severe abnormality inside our son’s brain that left the doctors with little hope that he would make it full term or have much quality of life if he did survive. In the uncertainty of that moment, I heard a still small voice from God that everything would be ok, just hold on.
Have you ever found yourself in these life moments where there are no answers? There is no other choice but to hold on. During these times, you try to pray for the best possible outcome, but hold on…is the better prayer for strength to accept the outcome of the roller coaster, also known as God’s will.
As I write this today, my son is two months old. He was diagnosed with a rare
developmental brain disorder, underwent brain surgery at 5 weeks old, but you would never know if you got to meet this cute boy. He is thriving and defying the odds daily. The road ahead will be long, but we continue to hold on to God’s love and grace each day and cling to that still small voice from God that everything would be ok, just hold on.
I realize that not everything turns out the way we like. God’s will might not feel “ok”, or even right in the moment, but God’s plan is perfect and learning to accept that in times of trial is one of the hardest parts. My eyes and heart were opened to new layers of God’s love and grace during our time in hospital facilities as I watched other families hold on in their own unique circumstances.
I will never forget walking into Pod B at the NICU one morning and learning that a mother across from us was holding her daughter behind the curtain for what would be her last breaths in the next hour. I wanted to do something or say something to her, but what?
I could not stop thinking about this mother. I went to the hospital lobby the next day to meet a friend who was coming to visit. I saw the mother there waiting tensely in a wheel chair about to be discharged. I took that as a sign from God to speak. The conversation was brief, but what was most meaningful was being able to hold her hand and pray for God to hold on to her.
My prayer for you this new year is that you will hold on. Or perhaps that you would let God hold on to you. Hold on to the promise of Isaiah 43:2, “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.”
God knows what you are trudging through…difficult family relationships, rocky marriage, financial issues, job loss, struggles at work, daunting health diagnoses, aging parents, watching your children make poor decisions…HOLD ON. Trust that you are right where you are this year and that God earnestly wants to use you to bring hope and light to others in your life.
Ask God to put someone in your path this year that will hold your hand as a reminder of God’s love and presence in your life, and do not miss the opportunities to hold someone else’s hand, even if it is one of a stranger.
Hold your head high and hold on for what God has in store for you in 2017. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than we all ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Minister to Students, First Baptist Church,Wilmington, NC