Thursday, 23 September 2021

G Guest Editorials

Celebrate Lit - New Year New Hope

New Year, New Hope

by Carolyn Miller

Happy New Year!

I hope 2021 is a happy new year for you. It’s funny looking back on the year that was, with so many people talking about 20/20 vision, and that 2020 would be the best year yet, and then we were hit with a plague-like virus and other events that drastically shaped our world in ways that we didn’t see coming.

You might have seen some of the memes around, with people wanting a 2020 refund, or for the year to be reprogrammed without the glitch. For some people 2020 was heartbreakingly hard, sad, and a year they are desperate to forget. So many of us are glad to welcome in the new year with all the hope that a fresh start brings.

There is something about fresh starts, isn't there? Something that fills us with anticipation, that makes us feel more hope-filled and brave. Here in my corner of Australia we were shrouded in smoke at this time last year, as some of the most destructive bushfires in years swept across the eastern states during the height of summer. Small villages near where I live saw many, many homes and businesses destroyed. When this was followed only a month or two later with COVID and restrictions unlike anything we’ve known, many people seemed to despair.

But now, looking at new buildings going up, looking at the greenery shrouding blackened tree trunks, looking at how businesses have Restoring Fairhavenrestructured and adapted, it can be easy to forget that only a few short months ago people were feeling oppressed and overwhelmed. Not dwelling in the past can be a good thing, it can help us to develop resilience, it helps us not slide into depression and hopelessness. It helps us to heal and move forward in our lives, rather than be stuck in the brokenness of pain.

I wonder, though, if we need to look at things a little differently. Perhaps the next time we face challenges and difficulties, instead of wishing it was over and life could resume to normal, we could pause for a moment and consider that there might be something to gain from the pain. I’m sure that’s part of why God tells us to be thankful in all circumstances, that a life of thankfulness is actually His will for us, regardless if circumstances (2 Thessalonians 5.18).

For when life seems bleakest there is something powerful in remembering that God is still on the throne. That He is able to work all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Romans 8.28). How easy it is to look back on circumstances and say “God is good.” How much harder to be in the midst of tragedy and say the same.

Close to twenty years ago I experienced a miscarriage, the loss of our much-longed-for first child. I know – now – that lots of people have undergone similar sad experiences, but at the time it was a private pain, a private grief. My husband and I hadn’t told anyone we were expecting, so the pregnancy loss felt extra hard as it seemed we had few people with whom we could share our pain. Something that did help, though, was worship.

I’ve always loved music, have led worship in church for years, and I still remember singing to God, through tears, while I was literally losing my longed-for baby. I was conscious in the early morning shadows of that moment that I had a choice: to cry and weep and agonize in pain about the unfairness of it all, or to sing words I wasn’t sure I really meant, but deep down I knew were true. So I began to sing—through tears—that God was good. To sing—through rasping breaths—about God’s love for me. To sing—while my heart felt like it was tearing apart—about God’s faithfulness. It wasn’t denial, but a decision to sing by faith, a choice to make a stand to live by faith, not by sight, something all Christians are called to do.

This is hard. I refer to this struggle with miscarriage in my historical novel, The Captivating Lady Charlotte. My new contemporary, Restoring Fairhaven, shows what happens when someone does not deal with grief, how it can imprison and isolate and harden our hearts against God and other people. 

Confession time: I don’t sing about God’s faithfulness in the midst of every hardship. I’m sure my heart would be a little less cluttered if I did, but I’m afraid I’m all too human and like to complain and can tip towards negativity as much as the next person. But over the years I have seen, countless times, that speaking (and singing!) about God’s truths helps raise my heart and my spirits, as my eyes are lifted from my circumstances to focus on God, and I experience a sense of peace-filled joy far deeper than the happiness that so often is swayed by my personal situation.

At the start of 2021, we don’t know what will occur this year. But at this moment, when it’s a fresh year with no mistakes in it (yet!), I want to encourage you to join me in making this a year when we choose to fix our eyes on Jesus, “the author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12.2), to live by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5.7). Who knows what this year will bring, but circumstances need not determine our level of faith, or our level of joy.

I hope and pray that your 2021 is a happy new year. But more than that, I pray that your year is filled with the deep joy, peace, and faith-filled confidence that God is good, that God loves you and has good plans for you. So that this time next year we shall look back and thank God for all He’s done and shown us, a year of hope, of recognizing God’s faithfulness, and understanding just a little more of the vastness of His love.

Carolyn Miller





Carolyn Miller lives in the beautiful Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia, with her husband and four children. Together with her husband she has pastored a church for ten years, and worked as a public high school English and Learning and Support teacher. 

A longtime lover of romance, especially that of Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer’s Regency era, Carolyn holds a BA in English Literature, and loves drawing readers into fictional worlds that show the truth of God’s grace in our lives. Her Regency and contemporary novels are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Book Depository, Koorong, etc

Connect with her:        website | facebook | pinterest | twitter | instagram

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