Departure From the Norm

I’m going to take a little break today from my normal schedule because this week has been a departure from the norm.

In a way, this fits perfectly with our normal Wednesday topic: Energizers. But I’m not going to focus on the energizing aspect today.

I really just want to take a look at the past year. It might seem a little strange to do that on July 10. It’s not the beginning of the year or the middle of the year. It doesn’t even mark the changing of the seasons. But this week has marked the celebration of our wedding anniversary.

A lot has happened in the past year. I’m not going to spend all day detailing everything. But I do want to take a moment to point out a couple generic things.

Anniversaries of any kind are a great time to stop and think. We took about 24 hours outside of our normal context to spend time together and to consider together the past year and the coming year. The break was relaxing, refreshing, and really helped to renew my mind.

We mark the passage of time as humans because it helps us to live within our limited perspectives. It gives us a frame of reference in which we can live. Sometimes this context can make us feel particularly overwhelmed. Time seems to go too fast or too much happens in a short amount of time. Other times, it can be such a joy. We can look to the passage of time and say to ourselves that we made it through; it’s a new day, week, year, and there is a restored sense of excitement about the future.

Either with relief or drudgery, the making of time often causes us to reflect. We may have gone through an incredibly difficult time. Or it may have been incredibly wonderful. In the case of this anniversary for my husband and I, even the reflection on hard times led us to say it has been a good year. Some of the things we have been through, I wouldn’t wish on even my worst enemy. They have hurt so incredibly deeply that I was as broken as I have ever been. But we have grown so much through those things; we are closer as a couple; we have grown deeper in our relationship with the Lord; we have become more compassionate, patient people who desperately want to reach into the lives of others. So many verses have become so real to us, but a particular passage comes to mind as being very true of us now. Paul says the following in 2 Corinthians 1:3-7 (I’m quoting from the J.B. Phillips New Testament this time):

3-7 Thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that he is our Father and the source of all mercy and comfort. For he gives us comfort in our trials so that we in turn may be able to give the same sort of strong sympathy to others in theirs. Indeed, experience shows that the more we share Christ’s suffering the more we are able to give of his encouragement. This means that if we experience trouble we can pass on to you comfort and spiritual help; for if we ourselves have been comforted we know how to encourage you to endure patiently the same sort of troubles that we have ourselves endured. We are quite confident that if you have to suffer troubles as we have done, then, like us, you will find the comfort and encouragement of God.

We have learned about pain, but more we have learned about the comfort of being sure of our salvation and the hope of eternity that comes with it. We have experienced great loss and yet what we know now isn’t just the pain of loss but the joy of being able to honestly say we have gained so much by the grace of God. We’re not super spiritual. We’re just the unworthy, grateful recipients of such grace, mercy, love, joy, and peace as we cannot possibly describe. It’s not been an easy year, but as much as I wouldn’t have asked for this year’s events, I also wouldn’t trade it for anything. We know God in a way that is only possible because of the complete and utter dependence we have had to have in Him. We had nothing but God and He proved immeasurably more than we could imagine in our wildest dreams. We are loved; we are blessed. And we are looking forward to the coming year and seeing what God has in store for us now.