“Alison, this year will be hard. But I will carry so much of the burden with you if you let Me. You will grow in so many ways, in more ways than just one. You are ready for it. I am with you always. It will be very good.”
I was prayer journaling on January 3, 2020, and these are the words I had in my heart that God was responding to me after I probably word-vomited a bunch of my anxieties and fears to Him.
This journal entry was written before COVID-19 became a global pandemic, before I left Boston, before my relationship ended, before political and social battlefields blew up, before death and anxiety consumed everyone’s minds, before starting my new career, before being in solitude for 6 months. I’m no prophet, because this could apply to many different years of my life, but it was made very clear to me this year that things would be particularly difficult.
“I will carry much of the burden with you if you let Me.” There were many times I did not let God carry the burden with me this year, because I thought I didn’t have time to think about anything except all the things I just listed. Those were the times when “difficult” became “crushing,” and when I felt the ground beneath me collapse. But in all the times I allowed Him to come and be with me, “difficult” became “difficult but peaceful.”
I’m not here to say that every hardship can be turned into a happy ending now that it’s December 31st. There is a bitterness that humanity tasted this year that won’t go away by holding hands (definitely not that) and singing kumbaya. Hard days are made harder when you specifically asked God to help make the day easier and He didn’t. Death and loss are harder when you prayed that God would perform a miracle and He didn’t.
But God is not wrong. Do not be mistaken — COVID (and all the other bad things of this year) needs to die in H-E-double hockey sticks; I hate it all so much. But as Fr. Mike Schmitz says in this video: God never promised we would not suffer, but He did promise that He would always be with us. “I am with you always.” (Matthew 28:20)
My last post about solidarity is an ode to this fact. I said to God about 20 times before 8:00am this morning at work: “I can’t do this, Lord. I can’t do this.” But He made His crown of suffering readily visible in my mind. On January 3, 2020, He promised I would grow, and I would not have grown on this day, in this year, had He not let me suffer with Him, as much as I wished He didn’t let me.
“It will be very good.” Death is not good. Suffering is not good. But into whatever I allow God to enter, suffering and death included, it will be very good. Just like the day Jesus suffered and died is called Good Friday.
Some things I still feel have not shown to be very good at all — continued death, continued division, continued hopelessness. Some things I can see are indeed very good — the Zoom calls with relatives; the virtual book clubs; the new, rediscovered, and transformed relationships; the job that both drains and sustains me; the time I received to fall in love with God again.
“You are ready for it.” The times of the past are now 1000x sweeter when I think about them. Seemingly dumb and insignificant memories and experiences of friends, family, and faith have become powerful motivators for me when I’m feeling very low. I am grateful for every sweet and bitter moment that has readied me to be standing in my kitchen typing all of this half asleep right now (before 9:00pm, might I add).
God has kept all His promises this year, and at first it seems to be at my dismay. I wish it wasn’t so hard and I wish He didn’t ask us all to go through 2020. But even the “best” year is not good unless the One who is Goodness Himself is with us. He is with us, if we allow Him to be, and that is very good.
So tell me: Anything you want about how you feel about this year or the next!