If I’m honest, I am not one of the people who has fasted for this word or genuinely taken lots of time to write and journal specifically for this. The truth is that it has been picking at me for some time now leading up to the end of the year. Over and over again this concept would face me, either on a shelf in the store, a sermon I hear, or a bible verse.
It’s not a common one either. And if I am really, really honest. I was afraid to accept it.
See, my word for 2022 was resilience. And that came to pass in ways I could not have imagined. This has been the hardest year of my life. Season, to season, resilience to resilience. I can’t help but feel a breath of fresh air as the holidays conclude. This whole time, especially towards the end of this year, it has felt like I was swimming up to the surface but never reaching it.
Do you know the feeling? When you go a little too deep in a body of water, you turn around in a panic, running out of air, looking up at the rays of sun coming through the surface and not being able to reach it fast enough for your comfort. Even writing this I can’t help but take a deep breath.
Starting a new year feels like finally reaching the surface, and taking that big, deep, and panicked breath... “I made it”. “I survived”. “You’re okay”.
So you may understand why I was so hesitant in embracing my new word of the year.…myrrh.
Yes, that was not a typo, that’s the word, “myrrh”. It might sound like I am mocking the sound of a purring cat, but it’s a real word, a whole concept. Let me explain.
Early last month on a Sunday, my pastor spoke about Mary. Focused his entire message on her and the magi, wise men who followed a star to Bethlehem in search of a newborn king (spoiler alert - Jesus).
Myrrh (pronounced “mur”), was one of the three gifts the magi brought for newborn Jesus. For some reason, the small details the Pastor shared about this item resonated in me, and stayed in my mind and heart. As God does, He evolved it with time and prayer into my full-blown year promise.
The word Myrrh comes from an Arabic word meaning “bitter”. The Israelites had many uses for it, they used it as a main ingredient in holy anointing oil, perfume, and embalming oil1. I find it curious and prophetic that the same ingredient used in holy anointed would be used for embalming in death... do with that what you may.
For the purpose of what you are reading here and to the point I am looking to share we will focus on the relationship between Myrrh and death. It might sound cryptic that “death” is my promise of the year. But hear me out. As believers, “death” takes on a new meaning, and Myrrh also takes on a new meaning. Death is life because death leads to resurrection.
In Jesus’ crucifixion, Myrrh was present on multiple occasions. First, it was the custom of the Jews to give wine mixed with gall (a substance made from Myrrh) to those who were condemned to death by crucifixion. Since the combination was narcotic, it was designed to dull senses and ease some of the pain from the crucifixion and was given as an attempt to end life and suffering sooner. When offered to Jesus, he refused2.
The second wine offered to him was in a sponge, this wine was sour. In Roman times, sour wine was used as a refreshing way to quench thirst. This was intended to keep him awake and prolong his suffering since without it he would have died before stating his final sentence. Jesus drank this wine right before his final words, “it is finished”3.
Finally, Myrrh was used to embalm his body once they took him off the cross before he was wrapped up and taken to the tomb4. Three days later he resurrected as a completion of the promise. In Psalm 45:8 we hear David relate the smell of Myrrh to resurrected Jesus, “Myrrh, aloes, and cassia perfume your robes”. Thus Myrrh becomes the smell in relation to resurrection, life, and a fulfilled promise.
So, how does this relate to my whole point? Well, this year, the promise is death. Death to fleshly desires which, if you don’t speak “Christianese”, means no longer falling for short-term comforts and gratification that might keep me from living the calling on my life. It’s keeping the bigger picture clear, it’s finally treating my body and mind as the temple where the Holy one dwells. Taking steps as the disciple I’m created to be. It’s stewardship of the resources given to me, it’s letting go of the lukewarm. Its commitment. It’s sacrifice, acceptance, breakthroughs, and miracles. It is being expectant, surrendering, and praying on the daily. Though bitter, or some might say, “a tough pill to swallow”, Jesus refused to drink the wine that was intended to relieve his suffering to experience the entirety of the punishment set out for him.
So why would I be expected to do anything less?
Now, for you, this might look like just surviving and not giving up on his hope for the next season. It might mean opening your bible more than once a week. It might mean starting your day in prayer. I believe in my heart there is something for everyone here. This journey has been very personal for me and God has been preparing me and building this up for years for me to be telling you this now turning it into action. My convictions don’t have to be yours. That said, do not take the whisper you are hearing now for granted, in this moment, whatever is pulling you in your heart - take the moment to listen and process what He has for you.
Honestly, being expectant only opens the doors to the miraculous. Though this past year I experience the darkest depression I ever had, I experienced the worst financial hardship of my life, and the heaviest loneliness I have ever faced, I am here on the other side to say it lead to the deepest intimacy I have ever experienced with my creator. This year tested my faith. This year I also witnessed the biggest miracles of my life yet. I closed many impactful seasons of my life and opened brand-new ones. Faith and sacrifice may not always be pretty, but I would not change this life for anything in the world. The joy and fulfillment are like no other, the freedom and peace. I would never choose to go back.
Happy New Year friends, may this year be filled with boldness, breakthroughs, intimacy, and joy. Would love to hear any thoughts below if God sparked any you’d like to share.
Finally, a reminder that you’re not alone and that this journey may look different for every single one of us but that does not translate to having to go at it alone. You are loved, empowered, and prayed for - every day.
1 Exodus 30:23
2 Matt 27:34, Mark 15:23, Luke 23:36
3 Matt 27:48, Mark 15:36, John 19:28-30
4 John 19:39