As we reflect on this year and look forward to 2018 I’d like you to consider this:
Life is a series of beginnings and endings. Some beginnings are awesome. Some are not. There is joy we feel at the beginning of a new journey but there can also be joy at the journey’s end. Beginnings and endings aren’t inherently good or bad. They are just the events that move us forward throughout our lives.
What really matters is how we integrate the experiences life brings us. What really matters is whether we allow them to make us better, stronger, wiser people – or allow them to break us down, hold us back or defeat us altogether.
Every beginning in life has an ending. Every ending, unless it’s the end of our life itself, leads to a new beginning. Round and round we go.
By God’s Grace we each enjoy beautiful stretches of relative peace, security and good fortune. And by dint of being human in a fragile world fraught with natural disasters and sin, that peace and security is sometimes obliterated by misfortune, disaster and loss. Putting an “end” to the world as we knew it.
This year there has been an inordinate number of natural disasters. Thousands of homes and lives were turned to ash in California fires this year. Many thousands more were lost to the hurricane and floods in Texas. Today’s news headlines show the staggering blizzards in the eastern half of America and reports that more than 100,000 homes are without power today. Meaning they are also without heat in the midst of the freezing cold.
There were many lives lost to violence and terrorism in 2017. Each and every one leaving a trail of sorrow and hardship those left behind must now endure for who knows how long?
We celebrate on New Year’s Eve not only because we long for what’s next; we also celebrate the end of a year we may well have hated for the terrible things that occurred somewhere between January 1 and December 31.
How many times have you heard someone exclaim how much they look forward to “this year” ending? They consider the year a complete loss and can’t wait to put it behind them. Maybe you’ve even said that once or twice. I’m pretty sure I have.
My first worst was the year our baby girl died of SIDS. Then there was the year we thought we’d lose our son, Trevor, the same way. Then there was the year I was sexually harassed at work and then blamed to protect the reputation of the man who harassed me (#MeToo). And how could I forget the year my husband and I almost gave up on our marriage? Thank God that’s in the rear view mirror!
New Year’s Eve is a moment we acknowledge the year for what it was; then turn our hearts, cast our wishes and prayers that the coming year will bring all the things we long for still.
We’ve all had some pretty horrendous years.
Well, …if you haven’t yet, …just wait.
What I’d like you to consider though is that none of it is wasted. All of it matters. All of it is meaningful and ultimately…Good. The best of times and the worst of times are all things God uses to make us wiser. Stronger. Softer. More aware and infinitely more useful to fulfill His purposes.
Think about someone you know who allowed their personal disasters to define them and cripple them forever.
Think about someone you know who rose from the ashes like a Phoenix and now goes through life with an inexplicable amount of courage and optimism.
The Bible tells us that in this life we will endure suffering. We should not be surprised that awful things happen to us while we live here on earth. But our suffering is supposed to produce good in us. It’s meant to make us stronger, wiser and more ready and capable of fulfilling our own destiny!
James 1:2-4 says this:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,[a] whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
In Romans 5 we are taught:
3 Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
The New Year is a pin in the map of our lives. By all means, mark the spot. But learn to see it as a mile marker on a journey we have yet to complete.
Lift your eyes and your chin toward heaven. Connect with our God and ask Him how He would like to use everything that happened in 2017 to make you the person you need to be for 2018.
Ask Him to give you the courage and the faith for all of it.
Ask Him to ready you for what is yet to come. Ask Him to give you the courage and the faith for all of it.
Because whatever happened to you in 2017 you can either allow God to use it to make you wise or allow the enemy to use it to defeat you right where you stand this minute.
Let’s pray together for 2018. Let us pray for our nation. Let us pray for our leaders. Let us pray that the desire for brotherhood will permeate our land and cleanse our hearts and lips from the thoughts and words that continue to undermine and divide us all.
Father God we look to YOU. We humble ourselves before You and acknowledge that You, alone, are God. You know everything and see everything. Our comfort is in remembering You specialize in making all things new. You are the author of the greatest beginnings. Even our endings are in You. Help us to embrace them all. Show us how the hardest things can produce the best in us.
God lead us to pray for our leaders every day. Give wisdom to our President. Discipline that angry mob we call our governors, senators and judiciary. Deliver us from the evil that crouches around every corner. Give us a common prayer and let us seek a common blessing.
We ask it in Your precious Name, Jesus. Amen!
Happy New Year my dear ones. May God make it so!
In His love and service,