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2014 considered. 2015 embraced.

Friends, I want to encourage you today as we approach the end of another year and wait in hopeful expectation for what 2015 will bring. For some of us, 2014 has been a great year. Perhaps there has been a cause for celebrations such as: an anniversary, a job, a wedding, a holiday, a family reunion, a graduation, an achievement of some kind or something else that has led to much happiness. For others, 2014 has brought new challenges such as: illness, the death of a loved one, debt, unemployment, disappointments, loneliness, unexpected difficulties, a loss of faith, a broken relationship or friendship and other circumstances that grieve the soul.

It has been another year and many will have uttered the phrase ‘where has the time gone?’. It does seem to go so quickly, and we spend some time at the end of this year reflecting on all that has passed us, and we look ahead to this next year. Perhaps you feel a sense of dread or at a loss at another year. You are struggling to come to terms with life, and this year has dragged on from one hopeless struggle to another.

There is hope.

Crying in Church

How do I know there is hope? Well, I hit an all-time low on Sunday. The waterworks from my eyes began to trickle down my cheeks during the sermon on Sunday. It all started when people were coming to share their words of encouragement from what they had learned this year and the wonderful, awesome things the Lord was doing in their lives and the lives of others. These are called ‘testimonies’ and it is not just someone’s story of coming to a faith in Jesus, although it can be. The testimonies people gave were very encouraging. However, it was also deeply saddening for me.

Someone suggested that maybe my tears were falling because I wanted to give a testimony, but felt that I had no testimony to give at this moment in time. I did want to give a testimony. Nonetheless, I simply couldn’t. Not because I did not have one to give however. I had plenty of encouraging things to share about how God has been so wonderful in 2014.

My tears kept falling because many were talking about work, future opportunities and jobs. As many of you dear friends are aware, I have struggled with unemployment in 2014 for 6 long months. Nonetheless,Β I am learning so much in this sabbatical of grace. For that is what it is. A sabbatical of grace from the Lord to help me to rest, to learn, to trust, to listen, to pray, to ponder, to wait, to be patient. He has given me His grace to endure this very difficult time. He has not provided me with a job in the way and in the time that I thought He would. He has done something much greater in giving me a sabbatical with Him.

There is hope.

I know this because the Lord has sustained me daily all of my life, and has continued to be faithful during this difficult season. There have been days when I just did not want to face the day. I did not want to have another discussion about work or what I do for a living. I have cried and felt angry and at a loss. However, I have been comforted by the Comforter.

Bursting into tears when the pastor came to see Joel and I after the service, I buried my head in my hands and wept. I have never wept so hard in my life. The tears just kept streaming. My nose started to run in an uncontrollable and embarrassing way. Gross, I know.

In that moment, comfort came in the most beautiful way. Christ the Comforter had placed everyone in a position of grace. My husband was at my right hand comforting me with his presence. The pastor was at my left side with his hand touching my back to show that he was there. A woman who I had worked with in the creche turned to offer words of comfort and encouragement saying that ‘I was so steadfast in my faith’. A man had also turned and placed his hand over mine to pray with the others. Another woman who I had befriended at the church with Down Syndrome went and got me a cup of tea and a biscuit, and stroked my back in a soothing comfort. For the first time in my life I really experienced the true love and fellowship of a group of believers coming together when an emotional crisis was at hand. My emotional crisis. I did not expect to be the one who needed comforting in such a profound way – but I have been so blessed and encouraged by this experience. To be surrounded by believers uplifted, edified and encouraged me in a powerful way.

5 Ways to be an Encouragement as part of the Body of Christ (the ‘people’ who collectively are the ‘church’ make up the ‘body’ of Jesus)

  1. Listen to them – Give them your attention as listening is a wonderful way to support and encourage so you can respond to what they are struggling with.
  2. Offer words of encouragement – affirming and building someone up. Hearing what you are doing for Christ & how He loves you brings a smile and some reassurance through the hard times. Keep up the good fight of faith!
  3. Prayer – Praying for the one who hurts. Nothing is as powerful when you are standing alongside them in prayer. God hears all of them and reaches down by providing His Comfort – this is often through other people!
  4. Touch – Hug them. Provide a hand hold. Gently stroke their back to soothe them. Do not invade their space, but make a judgement on the situation. Just a little act like this can let someone know they are valued and you care.
  5. Meet their physical needs through an act of kindness – e.g a cup of tea and biscuit, a walk in the fresh air
The church is not a building. It is the people who collectively make up the body of Jesus Christ!
The church is not a building. It is the people who collectively make up the body of Jesus Christ!

I have learnt that I know the Lord more when I struggle with life, because only then do I surrender everything to Him. It is in the darkness that you seek the light. In the same way, it is in the darkest moments of life that we start seeking for the light of life again. We want to be shown the answers, but often we do not get the answers we hoped for. Nevertheless, when we accept Jesus as our Saviour in this dark, crumbling world, we are given hope and comfort that shines light into the coldest and darkest crevasses in our hearts.

Time and time again I find myself facing new challenges and struggles. Although I do not understand everything that afflicts me, I do have the confidence to say ‘Christ is my greatest Comfort and my Hope’. If I have to be surrounded by darkness on every side in order to seek and trust the Lord more, knowing Him in a deeper, more beautiful way, I say, bring on 2015 in all its splendour and uncertainty.

‘i am learning so much in this sabbatical of grace.’Β 

I am linking up with Kelly and others for the Cheerleading Linkup this week (check out Kelly’s latest blog post to find me!):Β Purposeful Faith Cheerleading Linkup

24 thoughts on “2014 considered. 2015 embraced.”

    1. Hi Katie πŸ™‚ Thank you for your lovely comment. I am glad I could bring a smile. I have been blessed so much by her gentle, warm spirit! Happy New Year Katie and I will be sure to stop by at the #raralinkup! πŸ™‚

  1. Thank you for sharing your painful, yet beautiful experience. It takes a body of believers to give a glimpse of his care and comfort. I loved your list and your encouraging message here. Thank you!

    1. Thank you Karen – your words are really encouraging! It is so wonderful how we are truly one body of many parts, and how each part is so precious in bringing about God’s glorious plan for our lives! Happy New Year, friend πŸ™‚

  2. Oh Ruth, first off, I am so sorry to hear about this trial of unemployment. I have walked down that road before and it is not easy. Thank you for sharing really practical ways on how we can encourage others in need. It is so easy to forget this. One thing I know for sure, God is certainly using you. You have an amazing heart. I am so glad that your church came around you and loved you in this way. That is what church is all about. Much love to you Ruth!

    1. Thank you Kelly – it is comforting to know that others have walked this road too. I am really uplifted by your comment – I really pray God will work in me and that I will be patient and attentive enough to see this at work! I am really blessed to have the opportunity to share my words with you and others through the linkups, but even more blessed by the words I read from others. Kelly, thank you for all your words πŸ™‚ Much love to you too! πŸ™‚

  3. Wow – thank you for sharing your heart. I’ve been in the same place you are and wouldn’t have withstood the trial without my church friends rallying around me and walking with me. It is awesome to see church in action. Please know there is indeed hope!!

    1. Thanks Deanna! I take encouragement from others that have walked this road before me (and have got through it!). Church family are simply the best! I am thankful for your comments, and thanks for stopping by! πŸ™‚

  4. Thanks you for sharing your heart! I was so touched and moved by your openness and willingness to share. I would love to partner in prayer for you, if you would like. Praying for you today my friend.

    1. Brandi, that would be amazing! Thank you – I would really appreciate and be deeply encouraged by your prayers πŸ™‚ Thank you for your kind words. They really are just what this soul needs! Looking forward to partnering with you in prayer! Thank you for praying with me today πŸ™‚ God bless!

  5. You’re right, all these things can weigh on you but you can always rely on God and a solid community. Listening is so important. Sometimes it feels like we listen just so we have something to reply to. Thanks for be so transparent, and may you be embraced by 2015 πŸ™‚

  6. Ruth, thank you for sharing your heart here. I am praying for you too, that you will see God’s faithfulness in 2015 as He opens doors for you and you continue to seek his plan. It’s wonderful to hear you have a church family how cares for you so deeply.

  7. Beautiful! Your emotionally raw places provided an opportunity for others to minister. Your words give me hope today and challenge me to open those places in my own life to my family of believers. Thank you.
    Stopping over from Kelly’s #raralinkup

    1. Thank you so much Renee πŸ™‚ What a great way to think of it as an ‘opportunity for others to minister’. I am truly thankful for your encouraging words! I am glad you have left feeling challenged to open up to your family of believers πŸ™‚ Thanks so much for stopping by!

  8. I’m so glad you had people surrounding and supporting you, showing you the love of Christ through their actions. Many times it is in our darkest times that we find the light shining on us, for us. May God bless you and give you hope through this time of sabbatical rest with Him.

    1. Gayl, thank you for your wonderful words πŸ™‚ I really appreciate you taking the time to read my post and thank you for your encouragement! God bless πŸ™‚

  9. The love you have for the Lord in all of this is beautiful sweet Ruth. Hang in there, it is a tough road to walk, and sitting in the waiting moments of life can be so difficult and painful. But know that we serve an awesome and mighty King and I really believe He has great plans in store for you. And despite this difficult moment in your employment life, He is using you NOW by being such a shining example of staying faithful. We all have trials to bear in this life, but I am so encouraged to hear that your church and your hubby came along side you to build you up. That is what the Body of Christ is all about. Much love and hugs sweet lady. xoxo

  10. Beautiful words. I almost thought we were at the same service, but then I remembered that many churches have a kind of looking back with testimonies service. There are so many ways your words touched me.
    I have seen this year as a year of rest like the year of Jubilee in the Old Testament in that there would be many “fields” of our life resting from their normal toil. I hope there is new purpose for the new year.
    I have experienced two losses of dear friends of mine. One of them a sister to me another a mother. I was greatly comforted as a man who had lost his mother prayed for those of us us in the congregation who had lost loved ones. I didn’t know I needed that until it happened.
    I haven’t had the easiest year, but I want to welcome and embrace 2015.

    1. Testimonies are always such a powerful reminder of God’s faithfulness πŸ™‚ I am blessed to hear that the words from this post have touched you and all praise and glory go to the Lord! Thank you for the reference from the OT – that is very helpful to me. There is a God given purpose for every day! We just have to seek Him and rest in Him πŸ™‚ I am so sorry to hear of the losses you have experienced this year and am sending you a warm hug right now. It is encouraging how the Lord brings people into our lives at the right moment to equip us to face anything – for we can do ALL things in Christ who gives us strength – and that includes the strength to embrace today, tomorrow and the New Year! God bless you, Cheryl πŸ™‚

  11. This is such beautiful truth! Thank you for being transparent and offering very practical and helpful ways to encourage others who may be hurting. I am so thankful that you continue to shine “There is Hope”, even in the hard places. You are a blessing! Praying for you and wishing you a very Happy New Year!

    1. Thank you for your lovely words of encouragement! I appreciate your prayers and wish you a wonderful 2015 πŸ™‚ Looking forward to reading more from you! God bless πŸ™‚

  12. Dear Ruth,
    You had the privilege to live out the hope of Christ in the arms of the church. How precious that they gathered around you and poured love and encouragement over you at the time you needed it the most! What a beautiful glimpse at the glory to come-because that was but a peek of all we have before us!
    It also encourages me that God is moving in and through His people to accomplish His purposes.
    And trials?
    They teach us to more richly love and trust Him. (but you know that.. πŸ™‚ ) It is beautiful that you are embracing that precious opportunity.
    I am so blessed to have been “linked Up” with you!
    And please know I mean this wholeheartedly, do not hesitate to contact me with a personal note if I can encourage you with truth and help! Big sister ((HUGS)) Lord, please give Ruth a job, if that is what you desire for her. If not, please give her the grace to accept your answer and know you more deeply by this time of testing. May Your name be lifted up in her heart and life! AMEN!!

    1. Wow – thank you so much for this wonderfully uplifting comment! I am so touched and encouraged by your words and glad we could link up! I appreciate the opportunity to contact you – it means a lot to me. Prayers are the best thing for me at the moment, and a reminder to continuously look to God, rather than my circumstances… Thank you for the lovely prayer on my blog though – will definitely keep re-reading that!

      God bless you today! πŸ™‚

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