The Jubilee Year of Mercy has ended, and the Holy Doors have closed. I have to admit, I’m just a little relieved. I’m not exactly sure what I expected or hoped for, but it wasn’t what I got. This has been one of the most difficult years of our lives. It has also been one filled with unexpected graces—the kind that throw you for a loop, fly you through the air, and then land you in entirely unfamiliar surroundings.
The strange thing is that I know a whole lot of people who feel the same way. Many, it seems, have faced some pretty rough challenges this year. And many have seen changes and breakthroughs they never thought possible occur. That’s definitely been the case for our family.
This year, God reconfigured just about every aspect of our lives. It started with a “small” house fire on December 28. No one was hurt. Though it was confined to a single room and caused zero structural damage, the smoke was so bad that we ended up living in exile for nearly eight months. Eight months. In the first eight weeks, we moved three times. We didn’t know where anything was, and stored pretty much everything we didn’t need. We found out just how much that was.
In addition to everything it took to deal with insurance and contractors after a fire, some familiar family challenges intensified. We had no choice but to address them differently than we had in the past. What has unfolded since has given us all reason for hope.
As if we didn’t have enough on our plates, my husband ended up changing jobs. We would never have thought that it would be possible for him to puruse his passion and leave the stress of the software industry for full-time teaching, at least not yet. But that is precisely what happened. And while we’re still adjusting to the smaller paycheck, his smile and renewed sense of purpose is worth every penny. To top it off, I ended up in a new position too—one a bit faster paced and without the at-least-two-hours-in-the-car commuting every day.
I had planned to spend the Year of Mercy practicing the Works of Mercy toward others. What I found out this year is just how much mercy God wants to give me. We’re back in our house now, with all new carpeting, upholstery, paint, and several upgrades we would never have been able to afford. Except for the fire that cause us so much grief for all those months. The last of our belongings were returned to us just last week. We’re both working jobs we love, and genuine progress has been made in the most stubborn difficulties we have faced as a family.
Are we still reeling? You bet. And everyone of us needs a vacation. Badly. But the one thing we’ve learned is that God’s mercy doesn’t always come to us gift wrapped with a bow. Sometimes, the most difficult, inconvenient, jarring, and even painful things are how God chooses to be merciful to us. And why not? Mercy, after all, calls us to greater trust. And our God wants to show us just how trustworthy He is. The one thing that won’t end with the Year of Mercy is mercy itself. Guaranteed.
©Jaymie Stuart Wolfe, 2016