When "Happy New Year" Is Not Enough

Originally published Saturday, 03 January 2015.

Karen Brown recently published a blog post called, Good Grief, 2014! In it, she recapped many of the tragedies endured in the past year: the missing Malaysian aircraft, Ebola, Robin Williams’ death, Ferguson. Seeing this summary of so much pain all lumped together in one place made me close my eyes, as if I could block it all out with a lingering blink.


I read her post at the end of last year, praying that 2015 wouldn’t deal out as many harsh blows as 2014 did.


But now we’re only a handful of days into the new year, and the headlines are just as crushing.


For far too many, the generic greeting, “Happy New Year!” simply doesn’t apply.


All who hold Kara Tippetts dear — her husband, her four young kids, her extended family and friends — none of them are going to have a happy new year. Her dear husband had to make one of the most heart-wrenching phone calls imaginable — he picked up the phone and called Hospice, because his young wife is dying.


The families of each of the 162 victims on the AirAsia flight that crashed into the sea — they are not going to have a happy new year. Many of them are going to shake their fists at the sky and scream, “Why?”


Seven-year-old Sailor Gutzler just survived a plane crash that killed four people — and she was the lone survivor. She watched her mother, father, nine-year-old sister and 14-year-old cousin die in that crash.


She is not going to have a happy new year. In fact, it may be a very, very long time before she is even able to smile again.


We read about all of these tragedies, and the weight of the burden is almost too much to bear. And we plead with the psalmist, “… lead me to the rock that is higher than I.”



Happy New Year?


We need more than happy. Happy is not enough.


There is far too much sorrow in the world for happy to be enough.


We need something deeper — something lasting.


Something eternal.


We need a peace that passes understanding. We need a joy buried down deep.


So deep that even the worst of earthly circumstances can’t shake it.


As believers, we have a little secret. We know something that most of the journalists at CNN and BBC and NBC don’t know.


When the headlines hit and we feel the walls shudder and our insides tremble, we’ve got a secret that hunkers down in the bunker, safe and secure. It stoops low with its arms wrapped around pillars of joy, firmly rooted in the shadows.


It’s the secret that we’ve already won.


We already have the victory, because of Christ.


Tragedies will come, and this year might not be a happy one — but in God’s grace, that is not the battleground where our hope lives or dies.


Even when our faith knocks faintly on the door, when we’re battered and shaking, broken from all we’ve witnessed, when our lips quiver and our weak arms are all scraped up from the wreckage — even then, He is faithful.


We need more than “Happy New Year.”


We need the author of hope.