There are spindly pine needles rising from the carpeting like tiny daggers aimed at stocking feet. I should hoist the vacuum cleaner from the basement and take care of it, but this mounting pressure to pick a word for the year has me glued to the recliner like a woman with a deadline.
I read an article on picking a word of the year last winter, and while I’d picked a Bible verse and name of God for the New Year many times, I’d never picked just one word. Last year on the couch, I didn’t have to pray about it, deliberate over it, or find a commentary to lead me to it.
When the Word Comes Floating Down
Last year my word floated in, just like the old Sandra Bullock movie: Hope.
And with that one word, the words of Hebrews 6:19 flashed through my mind. On that day I claimed them for myself, my family, my unborn child, my temporary suffering: “This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil” (NASB).
And really, who doesn’t need a good anchor for the soul?
Some commentators note that in the original language, the word for hope denotes a sense of expectation with pleasure.
And when things get tough, don’t we all need more than just a sense of expectation? Couldn’t we all use a little more expectation with pleasure?
My expectant hope did include the sheer joy that comes with bringing a child into the world, but for those of us who hope in Christ, our hope is greater than even this blessing of new life. Our hope is in the reality that no suffering will last forever. We will one day find ourselves seated in heavenly places with God himself.
As I lay on the couch mulling over these truths last winter, I was reminded of Jesus’ final prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane: “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3 NIV).
Eternal life is more than what happens when our lives end and we are ushered into the immediate presence of God.
Eternal life happens here – in this life – when we receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, and eternal life is defined as knowing Jesus.
This means our hope is not circumstantial. Life can fall apart and burst at the seams, and I do not lose hope. I don’t lose hope because Jesus is my hope. He walks with me, always calling me to know him more and more as I draw near to him every living day of my life.
Hope is not merely a destination at the end of a long road. Hope is a Savior that walks the road with me.
When You Struggle as You Look Ahead
A year later, I can say that I have encountered Jesus as my Hope in transforming ways. I can also admit that I have no worldly clue of what might make a good word for 2020.
I read thoughtful posts from friends who seem so much more spiritually astute as they select their well-thought-out words. I compare myself and seem to come up short. I look at the calendar and what this next year might hold. I try to predict the future, as to pick the word that will be my beacon of truth when these clearly foreseen troubles arise.
Maybe you can relate. Maybe the idea of picking a word or a verse or a name of God leaves you reeling. Maybe you’re like me: For a decade, you picked your phrase – just so you could say you had one – and the only times it ever crossed your mind that year were the times when other people talked about their phrases.
Call me nonspiritual. It’s been my reality more years than not.
If you find yourself among the wordless warriors this New Year, don’t lose heart. Instead, let’s look, together, at these words:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being” (John 1:1-3, NASB).
Choose This One Word
What if we simply committed to make Jesus Christ our one word? After all, He is the Word.
And when troubles arise this year, we lift our eyes to Jesus, our One Word.
When we are grateful, we lift our eyes to our One Word.
When the race feels long, we lift our eyes to our One Word.
When we don’t know what to do, we lift our eyes to our One Word.
When despair threatens to destroy, we lift our eyes to our One Word.
And This One Word Might Change You
I wonder if, in doing this, our One Word, Jesus, might become the true anchor for our souls. I wonder if we’d stop turning to chocolate or Netflix or the advice of others or perfectionism or shopping. I wonder if this might be the One Word that changes everything.
If you are stuck on a word or a name or a verse this year, will you join with me in whispering this One Word today: Jesus. Let’s utter this Word ten thousand times this year and see if He does not change us.
Written by Stacey Pardoe.
This is an updated edition of a post originally published on staceypardoe.com.
Featured Image by NORTHFOLK