How to Say Good Bye to Your Hardest Year Ever and Still Find Joy

Tis the season for reflection. For looking over the last year and all the ups and downs it held. When our family looks back on 2015, it’s a year we never want to repeat. It was a year of great loss and pain. It was a year of transitions and sacrifices. It’s a year we still can’t talk about without tearing up. So how do I find joy at the end of a year like the one we’ve had?

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“Though the fig tree should not blossom,
    nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
    and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
    and there be no herd in the stalls,
yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
    I will take joy in the God of my salvation.
God, the Lord, is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the deer’s;
    he makes me tread on my high places.” 

Habakkuk 3:17-19 (emphasis mine)

take joy, that’s how I find it. I work for it. I search it out and find it. I hold on to it.

I remember first of all that we “do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses” (Hebrews 4:15) and that we “receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (4:16). And I remember we are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1). These witnesses suffered as we do, yet still had hope:

  • “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth.” Job 19:25
  • “Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy!” Psalm 126:5
  • “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; he knows those who take refuge in him.” Nahum 1:7
  • “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8
  • “So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
  • “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4

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I am not the first Christ-follower to have a bad year. This isn’t the last bad year our family will ever have. Looking back and seeing how God was with us, even in the hardest year on record, brings me joy. If He didn’t leave us without hope this year, He never will.

Like Jacob who wrestled for God’s blessings, I end this year with joy because I wrestle for it. We may enter the new year with a limp, but the limp reminds us of God’s faithfulness even in the struggle.

6 thoughts on “How to Say Good Bye to Your Hardest Year Ever and Still Find Joy

  1. Hi, Sandra, I’ve followed on FB for a while and this post was definitely what I needed today. I’ve struggled this year, and then some. My very young mother died of stage IV breast cancer in January, after battling it almost nine years. We had a complicated relationship and the grieving process has been equally complicated. My oldest daughter, age 6, also has autism, and both she and her 4yo sister are intense personalities, to say the least. I’m 30 weeks pregnant with daughter #3, sick (hyperemesis gravidarium) the entire time. My poor husband (also on the spectrum) is a brave, gentle soul, but just last night had a raging, crying, hopeless, hormonal wife, bless him. All this to say, very often I do not feel I have a large capacity for happiness, things have always, always been hard and they very well always will be. But your post reminded and strengthened me in a weak moment that I can choose joy, joy doesn’t run out or end because things are hard, His Mercies are new, and I’m being made new, too. Thanks for your heart and sharing the journey with us.

    • That sounds like such a tough year! Your comment encouraged me. We are being made new and there’s joy in that!

  2. This is just what I needed to read today. It’s been a rough time of reflecting for me. Thank you for helping me fix my perspective.

    • It’s so hard when it seems everyone is celebrating their awesome years, isn’t it?! Praying for you, Ashley! We can hang on to joy together.

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I’m Sandra Peoples. I’m a pastor’s wife and a special-needs mom. But to be honest, those descriptions weren’t my plan A. Click here to learn more about my journey.