I’ve never been one of those people who takes the turning of the calendar to a new year too seriously. I don’t make lots of resolutions or feel that I can somehow start over, but I admit to at least thinking positively about some fun things coming this year. From watching my newest granddaughter explore her world to my new book coming out to a great lineup for our writers conference to some fun class plans, I was feeling enthusiastic.
That is, until January 4. After chatting with my 89-year-old dad and several of our family members together on Jan 1, to then dad suddenly needing to go to the ER with difficulty breathing on the 2nd, to thinking we lost him, to having him rally for a couple days, to then die in an ICU in Pittsburgh, PA, on January 4.
The sheer shock and suddenness threw us all for a complete loop. I had arrived on Dec 29 to help family with moving him to a new apartment in his complex to end up staying to plan his funeral … well, let’s just say the roller-coaster of emotions is not something I want to experience again anytime soon.
I’ve talked about my dad before. I am incredibly proud of him as a Colonel in the United States Air Force, honorably serving his country for 24 years. If you’re interested, here’s his obituary. He was truly one of the good ones. He was my hero.
Not to be morose, but all of this along with losing my mom, my mother-in-law, my brother-in-law, some of my husband’s aunts, another of my aunts and then, just yesterday, an uncle. This all in the past 15 months.
It’s dumb and not really true, but I just always figured my parents would never die. Everyone else’s would, but not mine. I knew I couldn’t handle it, so they’d just have to stick around. They certainly tried, both dying in their late 80s.
I know all of us have lost loved ones. Death is the part of life that comes whether we’re ready to face it or not. The loss is numbing. I’ve been surprised how this has shaken me.
Yet, I do not grieve as those who have no hope. While faith in Christ has in many ways fallen by the wayside in our current culture, looked at as either merely quaint or downright anathema, I remain grateful for parents who instilled that faith in me at a young age and encouraged my growth in it.
I know absolutely beyond a shadow of a doubt that one day I will be reunited with those I love in heaven. I can’t explain it (if I could, well, then where would faith be needed?). Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18,
For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
People can believe what they will about those of us who hold to these promises, but that doesn’t change the promises. Over my 64 years of life, I’ve watched God at work in my life and the lives of others. I’ve watched new years come and go with new joys and new sorrows. I’ve watched the world spin around me. I’ve felt the ground move beneath my feet. But no matter what, I’ve always always had that solid foundation below me — the foundation that says I am loved by almighty God beyond anything I can imagine and that I was created for a purpose.
So in this new year, as I move forward from grief, I go in peace and deep abiding joy. “I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day” (2 Timothy 1:12 NIV).
Is your 2023 starting off hard? Feel free to comment below or message me so I can pray for you.