A naked tree!


At the turn of the year, there is often a time of reflection, mulling over the year passed, and considering the possibilities for the year ahead.

Christmas and the holidays, give us time to be honest about what is going on, and how we are feeling, and so it can feel like a bit of a vulnerable time. We recognise home truths we have tried to forget, and we can wrestle with things about ourselves that we don’t like.

I am fortunate to live opposite a park, and so I often gaze at these trees. They are full of life in spring, but in winter their branches are bare and they look exposed to the elements.

I have learned to do the Ignatian examen, not just for my days, but for months and years. I look back over the year with God, and ask that he reveal to me not just my struggles, but also things I can give thanks for. I am so grateful for this process, for by prayerfully reflecting, I notice where God has been at work, and this is more encouraging. It gives balance to my perspective, and reminds me more deeply of how God has blessed me, even if I didn’t see it at the time. I also notice things that God is inviting me to do differently in the future.

Whatever kind of year you have had, I pray you have some time to do some honest reflection. Sometimes it can be painful, yet there are also golden threads of God’s grace and encouragement which are so heartening, and can make us weep at the mercy of God.

I think of verse 18 in 1 Thessalonians 5 where it says ‘ be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus’.

I struggle sometimes to be thankful, I have so many questions as to why things are the way they are- abuse, bullying, conflict, violence seem all too prevalent in the world.

I also remember the words of Job 19, especially as they are sung in the Messiah  ‘ I know that my Redeemer liveth”. I can hear these powerful words sung as a statement of faith, even when the world is falling apart. And somehow, I sing them too……

Gracious and Loving God, it can be hard to be honest, even with You, as we look at the year past, our fears, our struggles, our failures and our pain. We feel vulnerable and exposed. Yet Lord Jesus You look upon us with love, and you remind us that all has not been in vain. You lift us up from the pit, and You gently teach us more of Your ways. Through the cross, You have brought  us forgiveness, and your spirit strengthens our souls. You offer us a place of safety to find healing, and then give us courage to keep walking, believing that somehow next year could be better. Thankyou for every evidence of your love and blessing in this world. Holy Spirit help us notice them, and to take heart. 🙏

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