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Happy New Year!

In honor of the new year, I want to share some thoughts with you about the hard things you may have gone through in 2022. Maybe you're really hoping for a smooth and easier 2023. I am too, but realistically, I know that life is full of good and bad, hard and easy, and it's typically all mixed together.

My 8-year-old son was playing a video game recently. He said, "Mom, look! I'm winning without touching the screen. It's going by itself."

If he touched the screen, he could control the action, but he couldn't lose.

"Hmmm...," I said. "Is that fun for you?"

"No," He replied. "If I can't lose, why bother to play?"

I sat there for a moment, stunned into silence. Well, isn't that the truth?

Following Christ isn't like playing a video game where we can't lose. It's often frustrating and incredibly difficult.

Is it supposed to be easy or convenient? We're promised peace in the middle of the difficulty and inconvenience, but we're also promised trouble from the very beginning. (John 16:33)

When I was expecting my first child, I was so incredibly sick that I wished for my own death. I'd begged God for a child for at least 18 years, and once I had one growing inside me, I was completely miserable. I'd go to sleep as the only way to escape my wretchedness.

The enormity of relief and pleasure when she was finally born was only compounded by how much I'd suffered to get to that day. The second she was out of my body, I was delivered from misery. The prize was great joy. There was no postpartum depression. Only JOY.

In fact, my deep love and happiness caused me be willing to face another miserable pregnancy almost immediately so I could do it again. And I did - two more times!

The last time brought a very sick baby with life-altering disabilities. For a long time, joy was nowhere to be found. People said "Congratulations!", and I wanted to scream and demand to know what they thought was so good.

As I've learned from many other parents of children with disabilities, I would've been encouraged to abort my youngest if his diagnosis had been detected.

They might point to the horror that was the next six months or so of my life. They might say that I could've been spared the fight of my life, the new challenges every day brings. My life could have remained neatly wrapped up with a bright, shiny bow: the couple who finally found one another and had a perfect girl and boy.

But isn't the struggle the very thing that makes life GOOD? This amazing son of love and joy, this incredible light, would've been torn from my body and I'd have kept my "perfect" little family. I'd have avoided hundreds of moments of difficulty. But I would've also lost a lifetime of joy too wonderful for words.

In the Bible, we find the terrible story of Hagar and Ishmael. Turned out from their home and about to die, God strangely chose to save them. He even blessed them. God knew that this child would be the source of generations of hatred and war, and He still saved his life.

Why??? It would've been so convenient to let him die. Abraham's mistake, cleaned up.

God saved his life because He isn't in the business of preventing problems. He's in the business of lovingly guiding us through our problems.

A child who is born in terrible circumstances, who brings difficulty and pain, is the very thing that makes life GOOD. If I'd been unable to care for Redmond, he could've been the answer to years of desperate prayers for another family. And even if that child's life means generations of war, God deems that life worthy. Who are we to say it's not?

The struggles of life can destroy us or cause us to more deeply appreciate the joys. We get to decide, and in 2023, I choose joy.


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