Leanne* lives in Turkey, where she works for a missionary organization serving Syrian refugees. She has lived in other Muslim countries in the Middle East before and speaks Arabic and Turkish.
We sat around a long table on New Years Eve 2021. One by one we shared something we had believed in but had yet to see. Believe in the impossible! This has become my theme for 2022. God can do anything, but can I really believe that he is doing the impossible in my life? Can I keep hoping for what I haven’t seen yet?
A day later, I found myself by the sea, newspaper in hand, and the bright sun made me close my eyes and simply listen to God. God brought me back to the “Old Year’s Eve” of 2020. I was so scared to step into a new year. So much has happened in 2020 that was not expected, not appreciated, not hoped for. COVID has gone from an epidemic to a pandemic, to strangulation and death, to confinement, to depression, to unemployment, to canceled flights, to canceled plans, to families separated, some lost for eternity. How could I expect 2021?
2020 was supposed to be a year of 20/20 vision! See clearly. See beyond ourselves. Had this happened? I was so nervous as time flies to 2021. The week before New Year’s Eve, I was restless with inner restlessness. I couldn’t stop the clock.
Once again, I was afraid to hope for 2022…
In all of this struggle, God gave me these words for 2021, “I live in hope.” I may not have been able to hope for the world to be a better place, but I could place my hope in Jesus who is fully in control. Even with unanswered questions, disappointments, losses and confusion, I could place my hope in him alone.
The past year has given me many new opportunities: a new team, new teammates, new experiences, new mentors, new roommate, new friends, new opportunities to stretch and grow.
Back at the seaside, eyes closed and meditating, I thanked God for the past year. I could truly live in hope that Jesus is greater than any circumstance. When I couldn’t hope, I found I could hope in Jesus.
But yet, I was once again afraid to hope for 2022. How could I rejoice and hope for more when so many others had struggled throughout the year? Depression, more refugees, collapsing economies, countries fighting – some at war and some pointing fingers. Many dead, and some close friends who died of cancer.
Can I dare to hope again? Oh yes! I can hope in Jesus! And not just hoping that Jesus is my hope, but hoping and believing in Jesus for the impossible. He is always the God faithful to his promises. He is still the one who holds the universe in his hands. He is always my God who watches over me and knows the number of hairs on my head. He is always love, Father, worthy of all our praise. The death and resurrection of Jesus is still the hope of our salvation – a free gift for all, and now even more real for those who have lost their security in wealth and wealth, comfort and security, health and dreams of longevity.
So what does 2022 have in store for me? If the past two years are any indication, I know I have to hold on lightly to whatever I’m planning. Everything can change, and it probably will. I dream of visiting friends I haven’t seen in ages, seeing my family again, attending conferences that have been canceled or postponed two years in a row. But I know and rejoice that God is in total control, and I can be sure that his timing will be perfect as well. Why rush into what was, when God could offer me something very different and new?
I have stepped into a new leadership role. God placed mentors and coaches in my life that I didn’t even ask for. Two new team members join my rookie team. I recently preached in two languages that I have learned over the past few years! Call me crazy, but I’ve learned to say yes to God’s crazy opportunities.
The more I depend on God, the more I feel his closeness. The more I listen to his voice, the more the little things in life seem to matter. I see people more as God sees them. I hear his promptings and take the time to obey or wait for clarification. I see the task ahead of me and I just want to hear what Jesus wants from me now. I love who I have become, trusting Jesus more. I like what he has become for me, my everything.
My prayer for me and for you is that we can become more like Jesus, day by day, believing in the impossible, especially in 2022.