the secret to 2016


I'm writing this post in O'Hare International Airport this morning.  I was supposed to land in Minneapolis last night, but the flight from ORD to MSP was cancelled due to a crew issue. I was told to call the airline's 1-800 number to rebook, which I did, and after 35 minutes on the phone with the woman, I was no closer to rebooking my flight than I was when I called.  So I had to wait in line and talk to a counter agent.  Then take a shuttle to a nearby hotel that, the agent had assured me, served food until 1 a.m., which was awesome because I was starving.  I got to the hotel at 12:20 a.m. and was told that the restaurant closed early, so the only food available was in the vending machine on the 12th floor.  But the vending machine didn't work.  So, short of smashing the glass, I couldn't get anything to eat except ice chips.

"Welcome to 2016," I thought as I went to bed hungry and cranky last night.

You may not be in exactly this situation, but I promise that at some point, probably in the next few days or weeks, you will.

We ring in the new year with hyperboles and visions of perfect scenarios, excellent health, dreams coming true, resolutions kept, lives transformed.  We ring in the new year at 35,000 feet and then, as the days pass, we descend into it until sometimes, unfortunately, we fall all the way down.  Down in the dumps.  Down in the dirt.


It's not wrong to hope for good things in 2016.  It's not wrong to wish friends and loved ones well.  It's not wrong to embrace the romance and promise of a new year.

But inevitably, something not perfect and not hoped for will happen to you and you'll feel discouraged -- and maybe depressed, or even defeated.  You'll feel like you have to wait for the world to finish making its 365-day rotation so you have the chance to start again.

But here's the thing.  Here's the secret to 2016: More blessings and personal transformation and redemption will happen to you in the hard moments than the easy ones.  Many important moments of your life will happen not in the absence of suffering, but in the overcoming of it (to borrow Helen Keller's language.)

The thing about mercy and grace and hope is that you'll experience them most when you need them most.

So, my friends, I wish you a Happy New Year.  I wish you health and happiness and blessings.  I wish you open doors and fulfilled dreams and yes-answered prayers.

But most of all, I wish you the ability to see 2016 through the eyes of Divine Love.  I wish you vision to see the pearl that's coming from the dirt and friction of your life.  I wish you the faith to believe in the secret of 2016 -- that God is not only working in the highest moments of your life, but even -- no, especially -- in the low ones.