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“Happy” New Year?

I’m assuming God’s laugh is a hearty one — one that shakes the clouds, maybe even causes small earthquakes in California (no mass destruction, just shaking glasses of water).

And I’m sure God laughed when my good friend and I were sitting on the couch in my apartment this time last year. We were both 100 per cent sure that 2013 was going to be a great year.

It wasn’t.

2013 was a year marked with heartache from broken relationships, loss of beloved family members, career discontentment, and chronic stress.

Six months in, my friend and I agreed:

2013 sucks.

A year later we’re sitting on the same seats, on the same couch, having the same conversation about 2014. Except this time there’s hot chocolate.

I’m biting my lip as if to hold back any positive adjectives that want to escape out of my mouth to describe 2014. As if “happy” or “great” or “exciting” are death sentences before the year even begins. RIP 2014 — you’ve flat lined before the clock even had a chance to strike midnight on New Year’s Eve.

I decide to remove any adjectives whatsoever and remark, “Well, it will be a year!”

Suddenly I’m second-guessing myself like I’m back in high school taking an algebra test. My friend expresses the thoughts I’m feeling: maybe, just maybe, 2013 wasn’t that bad after all.

And then clarity hits: “And we know that in all things, God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28).

Though this past year was full of trials and stress and utter exhaustion, we learned that through it all God is present. He works for the good, because we love Him. Because we turned to Him every day for the past 12 months.

In the heartache of broken relationships, there came healing. In the loss of loved ones, there came comfort. In discontentment, there came contentment. In chronic stress, there came rest.

What if having a “happy” New Year doesn’t mean “happy” in the conventional sense? What if it doesn’t mean rainbows and butterflies and new jobs with higher salaries and romantic engagements with huge diamond rings that weigh down your left hand and luxurious trips around the world on a cruise line (that doesn’t lose power or have someone murdered on it)?

What if having a “happy” New Year means letting God work His magic of creating good from all things..

He makes happy new nears from seemingly sucky new years.

Looking back, maybe God wasn’t laughing at all when my friend and I were chatting on my couch. Maybe He was agreeing with us.

Flickr photo (cc) by  Daniel Davies