It can happen any time of the year, but it occurs more commonly at the end of years where outbound despair waits for inbound hope. Whether we ‘do’ New Years’ resolutions or not, we all want to do things differently next year. And some years are so lamentable we wish for a revival. Those years we dearly wish for a resurrection of fortunes. Even if we’ve had a great year we do wish to keep the momentum going in fresh, new ways, because anything contrary is more unpalatable than ever.
This is a message not just for the end of year or New Year.
There are times in all our lives when we feel exhausted of body or spirit (or both) and we ardently deliberate on giving up. And knowing we have no choice but to keep going makes the choice doubly hard, because there is only one viable option.
We must keep going.
How do we do this when we have nothing left in the tank?
The truth of life is many lives are pushed to their limit, but it’s only as we lose hope that life overwhelms us. Yet it’s at that overwhelming point we’re poised to learn life’s most valuable lesson:
Adversity is like a strong wind. It tears away from us all but the things that cannot be torn, so that we see ourselves as we really are.
—Arthur Golden, Memoirs of a Geisha
As we encounter ourselves at the end of our tether we come to be ourselves, not in the madness of that instant, but in the quietness of spirit that exists when we can be quiet.
Yes, being quiet of soul is possible even in bristling, swarming chaos.
It’s the time that God gets us to be who we are before Him. Only then are we open to His help and healing. We’re much too stubborn otherwise. That help is the input of courage and strength, and the healing is the ability to use that courage and strength.
Adversity tears every unnecessary thing from us that was never ours in the first place. See hardship’s purpose? Only as we believe in this truth does reason merge with quietude nurtured in our hearts to produce a burgeoning hope; a vision that transcends the overwhelmed feeling.
Our temptation is to face adversities from the standpoint of our own common sense. But a saint can “be of good cheer” [ cf. John 16:33] even when seemingly defeated by adversities, because victory is absurdly impossible to everyone, except God.
— Oswald Chambers (source of quote, here)
This is the truth for believers of God.
We cannot be defeated, for especially in defeat, victory awaits despite defeat. Only by faith can that victory be borne on the wings hope that has learned to smile in defeat.
See the victory?
Victory comes in not being downcast in defeat.
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
— James 1:2-4 (NIV)
In defeat, then, is the material of victory, for if defeat cannot defeat us, nothing can.