Thou changest not. Thy compassions they fail not. Great is thy faithfulness, God, unto me.
From “Great is Thy Faithfulness” by Thomas Chisholm
“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust” (Psalm 91:1-2).
By this late date in life, I have turned quite a few pages on old years’ calendars, sung quite a few verses of Auld Lang Syne, and eaten my weight in good luck black-eyed-peas across several decades of New Year’s tradition. I love January. There is something cozy and comforting about a fire in the fireplace and working from home in my pajamas. I do that as often as possible during this month!
I never mind the gray winter sky and the sight of barren trees stretching their naked arms toward heaven. Spring will come in its own time. The changing of the seasons is certain, and the great blessing of growing older is the deep trust that springs from within, a result of a relationship with the Father who has demonstrated His faithfulness to me year after year after year.
Isaiah 55:8 reminds us that God’s thoughts and ways are different from ours—a good thing to remember here on the threshold of a new year with all its unknowns waiting before us. That is also probably among the first and most difficult lessons a Believer learns. We may never completely get past asking an occasional, “Why this, Lord?” But as time goes by, most of us come to a peace and acceptance with even the bitter pills of life. I really think that other than the final victory over death that comes to us on our final earthly day, the second best victory we are awarded as Believers is the experience of knowing the truth of the words in Psalm 23, ”For Thou art with me.” And THAT fact makes all the difference when the storms of life blow.
On November 7, my new granddaughter, Vivian Owen Bailey, was born in Memphis. She was only a few minutes old when the nurse whisked her away from her mother and daddy and placed her in the NICU because of breathing difficulty. For two days she continued to grow weaker, until finally she was transported by ambulance to Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in a critical state. Betsy looked at me and asked, “Mom, do you think she is going to die?” I had only one answer for her, and it was an answer that God has taught me over my personal journey, an answer that has been many years in the making.
“Betsy, God sees what we can’t see. He knows things that we don’t know. All I know is that He is a good God, and we can trust Him.” I could almost hear my mother’s voice in my words. I may fall flat on my face with failure in the next ten minutes, but at that moment, I felt old and slightly wise. God’s grace, for sure. Vivi, by the way, means “full of life,” and at six weeks old, she is very much that.
J.J. and Melanie Jasper, who you will meet this month in our cover story, will testify to God’s presence and strength in the middle of one’s worst nightmare. It seems like we can get through a lot of hard things, but when that hard thing involves losing a child—well, most of us cannot even imagine going there. It is no lame platitude to say, “God’s grace is sufficient” because they know that it has been. Amazing couple and an amazing story. But bring Kleenex.
With all the usual New Year’s Resolutions and good intentions in mind, our contributors have done an outstanding job of providing timeless tips to help you launch the New Year. Whether you are in search of comfort food or comfort and wisdom for dealing with the latest challenge life has presented, you will find something that speaks to you in these pages—guaranteed.
Oh, and I highly recommend pajamas and your favorite mug filled with your favorite hot beverage as you take your time reading it all. Happy New Year!