Happy New Year 2020

Dena Johnson Martin

“But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. Isaiah 43:18-19

This scripture was one I clung to ten years ago when my marriage fell apart. I knew God was promising me that the past was just that…the past…and there was something new and beautiful ahead. He was promising me life wasn’t over but we were just changing trajectories, finding a new direction, a new ministry, that fit with His plans for my life.

It was the exact promise I needed to begin the process of moving forward and healing.

Here we sit on the first day of 2020. The old has gone, and we have nothing but the promise of something new ahead. We don’t know exactly how it will play out, but there are some things we can count on:

There will be trouble. John 16:33 tells us there is trouble in this life. As I look back on 2019, I know there was an abundance of trouble. From relationship struggles to financial problems to health issues, we have faced our share of difficult times.

Let me give you a quick example. Five days ago, I finally broke down and had surgery to fuse my spine. I spent 2019 suffering excruciating headaches from a decades old neck injury. I simply couldn’t keep going with the frequency and severity of my headaches. After consulting multiple doctors, the decision was made to surgically fix my neck in hopes of relieving some of my pain.

It was trouble. It was incredibly scary. But I also know He has promised to overcome. So even though there is trouble…

There will be beauty. In spite of the pain and trouble and loss in 2019, we can also look back with a smile because of the beauty. In 2019, we settled into a routine as a family. We began to see all the ways God prepared our hearts, our lives for this journey we are on together. We saw bonding in ways we never expected. We had laughter and joy.

Redemption has been the word I have used this year to characterize our family. It looks nothing like what we expected, but it is truly beautiful nonetheless. When we pictured our lives together, we saw a completely different picture than what has come to be. But no matter how we look at it, we saw God’s hand so intricately woven into this picture. There is no way to deny He has begun a beautiful work.

There is no way to deny that…

God has already gone before us to prepare the way. Sometimes we have to remind each other that our circumstances have not taken God by surprise. He has been leading the way since long ago.

It’s fun to look back on our lives and see all the ways God was working silently in the background laying the foundation for our lives today. It’s fun to look back and see that God was never silent, but instead was working every step of the way. No matter where we are, God was here first. He was planning and preparing and working for our good and His glory.

And no matter where we go…

God will be with us and will overcome. There are definitely years we would like to forget. I look back at 2016 which was such a difficult year for my little family. My kids lost their dad unexpectedly and my baby girl lost her health. The grief and loss have created holes that are not easily healed.

But I can see so clearly where God was with us. I can see where He was preparing us even before the unexpected. And I can definitely see where He has been using our loss to change us, to make us more like Him.

My baby girl has been seizure-free for two years this month!! He has overcome! I have watched as she has embraced the pain and loss and blossomed into this beautiful young lady with a faith that shines so brightly! I have watched the smile return to her face as she shares the painful story of her past and as she sees God’s hand woven throughout, helping her overcome.

And that’s the promise we all have, no matter what our past has been. God is with us. Nothing can ever separate us (Romans 8). He is working to bring something beautiful of our messes. There’s something beautiful on the horizon if we simply surrender and let Him have His way.

He will be with us and will overcome.

What are you hoping and planning for 2020? I hope for deeper relationships with family and friends and God. I pray for faith that moves mountains. I long for wisdom and direction to make the most of this life God has given me.

God is planning good things for my future…for your future. I don’t know what it will look like, but I know He does. I think I will choose to simply rest in the fact He has it all mapped out.

Happy New Year, my friends!