I remember seeing many of these memes at the beginning of last year, predicting that we would have 3 years in a row of what we experienced in 2020. Thankfully, we didn't feel the social and health impacts like we did in '20 and '21, but '22, for many of us (like my family), '22 was the hardest of the three years.
We grieved daily the loss of our daughter. We experienced multiple miscarriages. Some close relationships are now distant memories. Figuring out what's next feels like an overwhelming and crippling task. Life seemed to move forward for many coming out of the Covid fog and yet, we still find ourselves daily fighting the feeling that a dark cloud is hanging over our heads and it blocks our communication with God. We talk, we pray, but He feels distant, unresponsive, like the dark cloud is a sound barrier to Heaven.
Thankfully there's no meme for 2023. But meme or no meme, maybe you're feeling like us and life still hasn't been what you thought it would be...I hear ya, loud and clear. And yet, as I start 2023 and begin to read through the New Testament this year with my church, I was struck by some of the names I read about in Matthew 1 this morning. Five women, in particular, who experienced terrible circumstances outside of their control, found redemption personally and for eternity.
Tamar: She was mistreated by her wicked husband and then her brother-in-law. Then she was cast out and forgotten by her father-in-law. Yet she finds herself mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus as her son Perez becomes a part of the royal heritage.
Rahab: Her people had forsaken the one true God and she was in career path where she was regularly mistreated and abused. Yet, she chose to trust in God by risking her life to protect Israelite spies. Her faith is rewarded when God knocks down the walls of Jericho and her family is spared and brought into the family of God. She marries an Israelite and her husband and son are also a part of the royal heritage.
Ruth: She was a foreigner who married an Israelite, but experiences the horrible tragedy of losing her husband, and it happened before they could have kids. She decides to follow her mother-in-law, Naomi, back to Naomi's home country where ends up working and then meeting Boaz, who takes her as his wife. Boaz and their son, Obed, are also a part of the royal heritage.
The wife of Uriah: Bathsheba is her name, and she was Uriah's wife. Uriah was a righteous and upstanding soldier in the Israelite army. But unfortunately, he was set up to be killed by King David because David tried to cover his sins of forcing Bathsheba to sleep with him and subsequently, got her pregnant. Bathsheba lost her husband, then lost that child 7 days after he was born, not because of anything she did, but because of everything David did. Yet God redeems Bathsheba's life and gives her another son, Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived and also was a king in the royal heritage.
Mary: The mother of Jesus, the one who "conceived of the Holy Spirit," and was ostracized in her hometown and family because she had a child out of wedlock even though she was still a virgin. We know her story and the impact her obedience had on the entire world as she faithfully followed God and was counted as blessed.
None of these women did anything to bring upon their terrible circumstances; it was injustice to say the least. But God was actively working amidst their broken circumstances and unfair treatment by others. He had not forgotten them and He redeemed their personal lives and their eternal story in the hope of our Savior. And so today, as we enter 2023, I resolve to believe that God will do the same for me, for you, for us. This does not minimize the painful realities we still wake up to on New Year's Day, it does take away the hard circumstances in the snap of a finger, but it does give us hope that as God has redeemed before, He will redeem again.
"My hope is built on nothing less, but Jesus' blood and righteousness."
Here's to 2023!