I can’t believe that another year has ended and a new one is beginning. Perhaps, like me, you feel that the years seem to pass more quickly as you get older. There’s no time to change old habits! This New Year fills me with hope. In the Gospels we see that each time Jesus engages with a person in need of healing they are given a new beginning, and are filled with hope and promise.
As I reflect back on 2019 and look forward to 2020 I am filled with this sense of hope and promise. I am sure that, like it was for me, 2019 was filled with all sorts of experiences for you: perhaps you experienced the death of a loved one or the birth of a new generation, perhaps you or a loved one experienced serious illness, and you have come through it through faith and prayer; perhaps a relationship has broken down or some family tragedy has divided your family, perhaps you have finally reconciled with a friend or family member who you have not spoken to in years. Whatever your experiences, good or not so good, all are part of ‘life’s rich tapestry’ as my mother often says, and she is so right.
As I begin this New Year I am filled with gratitude for all that I experienced in 2019 – especially the events that challenged my faith and helped me to grow. There were times when it was difficult, and I asked the Lord where he was in all that I was experiencing. There was also great joy at the birth of a new generation of grand-nieces and grand-nephews, and at the multitude of little blessings that filled my days.
As I look back on 2019 I see that the kindness and love of many good people, friends, family and colleagues, and a deep faith in the love of Jesus for me gave me the strength and courage to face each day renewed. I reflected on the life of Jesus and how he listened and healed each person who came to him for help. Often I just light a candle and sit quietly, wrapped in the love of Jesus, and I tell him all that is in my heart.
Time and again in the Gospels we see that Jesus’ first prayer is always one of gratitude: ‘I thank you Father of heaven and earth …’ (Lk 10:21). Throughout the Psalms we hear words of praise and thanksgiving and they are beautiful prayers to take and pray with. I always find a Psalm that captures what I wish to say: ‘I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds’ (Ps 9:1). This verse is one I say repeatedly as I drive, walk or just sit of an evening to reflect on the day, ‘Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love endures forever’ (Ps 118:29). I name all the things I wish to give thanks to God for and I end each line with – ‘Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love endures forever’.
In Paul’s letters to the early Christian Church in Corinth and Philippi we find much to reflect on. Paul constantly reminds the early Christians of how crucial it is that their lives be rooted in Christ Jesus and also how necessary it is to continually give thanks to God for the many blessings received: ‘Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness’ (Col 2:7) and, ‘Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God’ (Ph 4:6).
Paul knew the necessity of gratitude in all things. At times it can be challenging, if not impossible to feel gratitude in a particularly difficult situation but with true, heartfelt gratitude we can experience peace and reconciliation, harmony and wellbeing.
This is my wish for each of you as we begin this New Year 2020. That you and your families experience peace, harmony and heartfelt gratitude for the many blessings poured out for each of us from the loving heart of Jesus. I pray that you learn to allow the unconditional love of Jesus to flow into every situation in life and transform it so that at the end of each day you too can echo the Psalmist song of praise and thanksgiving: ‘Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love endures forever’.
Elizabeth Foley | Tel: 01 775 8530 | Mobile: 087 230 9219 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org