For the reader whose 2019 hasn’t been the best journey:
The year is ending. Your emotions stir like a contrast of colors. Dark streaks stain the bright.
You trace the silver lining on your worst months. There’s still something to be grateful for. Yet those months remind you of how these scars were formed. It still hasn’t been the best year.
December should be “the most joyous time of the year”, so you welcome the parties, reunions, the gifts. Christmas lights twinkle in your eyes. Holiday carols drawl past your ears in a flurry of warbled noise. But the weight remains. And for a sudden moment, you wish that everything could just…stop.
I’m so done with 2019.
It was a year of ups and downs—of more downward spirals than you’d like. A million things could’ve broken you.
Maybe this year it was a loss.
The loss of a loved one. Of relationships. Of health. Of security.
Or perhaps, it wasn’t a loss. It was difficulty.
This year had you plunging into the wilderness of life: A difficult job. A difficult school year. A difficult person. Impossible scenarios. And failure was probably the last blow.
Pain dismantles, and you’re recollecting the shattered pieces, struggling to put it back together. Because ending the year with brokenness isn’t the grand finale you wanted.
[My Worst Year]
It was 2013 for me. I can’t share much specifics yet, but it was during my college days when I trudged through a valley of brokenness. It wasn’t the stressful academics that hit me; it was life’s circumstances. The events of that year led to a lot of heartache. I wrestled with unforgiveness and a load of insecurities. The weight in my chest grew, balling up in my heart till it imploded, rendering me numb.
I had never felt so isolated in my life.
[Brokenness and Brutal Honesty]
If there’s one thing I learned from brokenness, it’s that it’s okay to be brutally honest about it.
When pain hits, it doesn’t simply pass through. It takes up space, and the human heart can’t process anything else. Oftentimes, there’s only one appropriate response: cry it out.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. – Matthew 5:4”
Grieve. Throw off the mask. Grant the heart permission to recognize the gnawing weight and say, “I’m not okay, God” (Psalm 142) . He will not shun a person for expressing the doubts, disappointment, and anger.
[The God Who Sees You]
Restoration was never an instant fix for me. (It never is for anyone, actually.) But admitting the pain to God was the crucial step towards healing.
“I cry out to the Lord; I plead for the Lord’s mercy. I pour out my complaints before him and tell him all my troubles. – Psalm 142:1–2″
Eventually, between lessons on humility and forgiveness—within the safe spaces of quietly mourning loss—He began dotting my darkness with lights. With His voice.
The valley of darkness pales in comparison to the God who sings over you (Zephaniah 3:17).
Maybe 2019 isn’t ending with the ideal fireworks because of wrong choices or mistakes. Or perhaps you did everything right this year, but this season happened to be your forge, when suffering was hammering your character, molding you to become more like Christ.
Whatever the reason for the valley you’re trudging through, it’s in this wilderness that He wants you to know Him.
It’s crazy, comforting, and amazing to have a God who sees you. And knows you. The valley of darkness pales in comparison to the God who sings over you.
[The God Who Comforts]
When my darkest months prolonged into years of painstaking restoration, the night revealed another side of God. Brokenness showed me how He could be so tender (Isaiah 54:10).
I was as incapacitated as a child stuck in a hospital bed. Good-hearted people offered me Bible verses to “deal with the pain”, but I felt like a kid with broken legs. Telling me to “just have more faith” was as good as being told to get up, while my bones were still shattered.
In the darkest nights, I didn’t want sermons. (Nor reasons/justifications for my pain.)
I needed comfort.
And the Healer knew it.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. – 1 Corinthians 1:3-4.”
Brokenness humbled me. It brought me down onto bruised knees in surrender. But it turned out that His everlasting arms were already underneath, waiting to catch me. (Deuteronomy 33:27)
It took years, but through certain events, people—and the moments of hiddenness with Him—He cleaned my wounds. Without fuss. Without condemnation.
Instead of rebuking me for being faithless and broken, he brought healing. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4).
[GOD IS LIGHT]
It took a lot of learning (and re-learning) to move forward from my worst year, but He was there through every step of the way, lighting up one star at a time, revealing another aspect of Himself in every light: Healer, Comforter, Restorer, Counselor, Lover. It didn’t matter what kind of pain it was.
He was there.
Perhaps the darkness has a way with unveiling the Light that He really is. (1 John 1:5)
He wrote stars in my darkness. And somehow, as I gathered a pocketful of balms, His Word began restoring my bones till I could take a ginger step forward from my past.
His grace painted galaxies into my night, leading to this miraculous thing called hope.
[Evening to Morning]
When He created the world, the evening marked the beginning of the day (Genesis 1:31). There was evening and there was morning. It was a dramatic sequence. It revealed how the Creator wasn’t finished with His work when night fell.
The morning was still coming.
As 2019 closes, you might be ending with your evening. But take heart, dear traveler. His work in you continues. It will not end with the nightfall.
“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. – Lamentations 3:22-23″
As you wait for the sunrise, trust Him in the ongoing night. Let Him mould you. Let Him hold you. Hear him sing over you. The night proves how He’s the only light you’ll ever need. (Psalm 27:1). In times of brokenness, let hoping in Christ be the most daring, skillful, and fearless act you can do to survive the heartache.
He was there. He stayed. Perhaps the darkness has a way with unveiling the Light that He really is. His morning was still coming.
[Happy New Year]
It took years for me to look back on my worst year without any regrets. It was slow. Tedious. Miraculous. Darkness may have hurt me, but He didn’t let it destroy me.
2019 may have marked your story with painful chapters. But you can refuse to let the past determine the rest of your story. He can still write new chapters in your life. New stories. New beginnings.
As the year ends, and the fireworks claim the sky, and the music and the noise whir around you, hear His heartbeat closer to yours.
Dare to hope.
A new year is a new chapter that you can begin.
Begin it with Him.
Journeying with you to the New Year,