Finding comfort in the new year

The Rev Tim Smith, pastor at Hele Road Baptist Church in Torquay. Photo: Contributed

The Rev Tim Smith, pastor at Hele Road Baptist Church in Torquay. Photo: Contributed - Credit: Archant

Happy New Year 

Well, our annual “blink & you’ll miss it” celebration of Christmas has been and gone.   
The build up to the festive season lasts for weeks, but in no time at all here we are in the early days of January and the decorations are back in a box in the loft and the tree, which only a short while ago was festooned with lights, has made its way to the recycling centre.  
Like many people, I’ve always found the turning of the year to be a time of looking both backwards & forwards.   
I’m reminded of a phrase the pastor & author John Piper once wrote, that “endings are for gratitude and beginnings are for faith”.   
That’s an idea I try and reflect on by taking the time to think on the year that has ended, giving thanks to God for the way he has provided for my every need, and also by looking forward to the year that has now begun, in anticipation of the Lord’s continual faithfulness in the midst of uncertain days.   
Of course, for many people, perhaps including some of you reading these words, 2021 will be the first year you will go through without the presence of a particular member of the family, who has sadly passed away.   
Although bereavement is something everyone of us will experience at some point in our lives, we each discover our own ways of coming to terms with such great loss.   
Several months ago, I followed up on a tweet a friend of mine on twitter had “liked”, written by a friend of theirs in America named Barry Peters.   
Last June, Barry’s wife Laura died suddenly following a cardiac arrest; she was just 41 years old.   
In early December, to mark the six-month anniversary of his wife’s passing, Barry andand his eleven year-old son Davis decided to create a memory to treasure that would also speak of Laura’s generous character.   
Apparently, four mornings a week, on her drive to work, Laura would buy a coffee at a near-by Dunkin’ Donuts drive-thru restaurant.   
So, having worked out that Laura would have spent $208 dollars on coffee during the six months that had passed, Barry and Davis went to the drive thru, bought a gift card for that amount, and then asked that it be used to pay for everyone behind them in the drive thru queue, until the money ran out.   
Barry and Davis then waited in their car to witness peoples’ appreciative reactions.  What a simple but profoundly meaningful way of keeping Laura’s memory alive!   
For those of you who are right now mourning the loss of a loved one, my prayer is that, not only will you find your own ways of keeping their memory alive during this year, but that you’ll also find that the promise God gives us in the Bible (in 2 Corinthians 1:3), that he is, “the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort” will be the reality that you experience throughout these next 12 months.   
And may I also offer a prayer for all of you at the beginning of this new year, using an Old Testament prayer of blessing found in Numbers 6:24-26, “The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you his peace”.   
Amen.