Soon the year 2016 will be finished. It can never be relived again except in our memories. Well, technically that is not the truth. On judgement day every person will give an accounting for their time on earth and that will include the year 2016. What will your account be concerning 2016? What will my account of the year be? It will be the year of struggles, of wars and rumors of war. It will be the year that changed the course of human history. It will be the year of storms and hurricanes, and drought, and blizzards, and flooding, and tornadoes. It will be a year of change. For me personally it has been a good year, not too many times of illness, not too many times of temptation, not too many times of sorrow. I guess when I put the year 2016 into a personal review I have to say it has been a good year and one in which I can truly say that God has been gracious to me, merciful to my family, and patient with my progression in my daily walk with Jesus. What more can I ask for than to be a daughter of the King! I hope that you have also had a grace-filled year and can look back and see how God has been working in your life and in the lives of those around you. I can see His goodness in my look back at 2016. Here are some passages that have greatly helped me during 2016 and I hope they will help you in the coming year.
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 6:25-34, (English Standard Version or ESV).
I especially love the last sentence of this passage because it is such a great reminder for me to take one day at a time and live it out the best I know how rather than trying to live months and even years down the road. I don’t know about you but I do have the tendency to live in the future rather than in the present. I am changing that concept of coping with the here and now. Perhaps it is because of my age but the future isn’t looking all that rosy from my 61-year-old vantage point! Know what I mean? What is important is what we do today, this very hour, and not to worry about tomorrow or the next week, month, or even year. Each day brings its own troubles but God will be with me helping me navigate whatever lies ahead. For today I am safe, I am warm, I am relatively healthy, and that is all the comfort that anyone can ask for!
Let not steadfast love and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck; write them on the tablet of your heart. So you will find favor and good success in the sight of God and man. Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones. Proverb s 3:3-8, (ESV).
I try to be a steady-as-she-goes kind of person because I think that the world is so unstable and we Christians are often the anchor for those who are unstable. Life can be hard even for Christians and sometimes we need the support system around us to keep us headed in the right direction. For me much of my support comes from the book of Proverbs because there is so much wisdom in this book, practical things that help me as I keep steady and stay the course in life. So much of life doesn’t really make sense in the moment but as the years creep by I begin to see a pattern of beauty emerge where before I only saw gloom and that is so encouraging to my heart. I can’t lean upon my own understanding when it comes to the things of God and accepting that fact has made a world of difference for me. I hope it helps you too.
“If your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault, between you and him alone. If he listens to you, you have gained your brother. But if he does not listen, take one or two others along with you, that every charge may be established by the evidence of two or three witnesses. If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church. And if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Truly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times. Matthew 18:15-22, (ESV).
It is always hard when coping with the consequences of someone else’s sins. So often the person who has sinned is so blinded by their sin that they can’t comprehend the pain they have caused in the lives of others. Learning to cope with this reality is part of a Christian’s daily life. How to handle such difficulties and let them go is so important to a Christian’s well-being as well as their witness to others. This passage has always been a good one for me to go to when those difficult times come. Jesus says to forgive over and over and over and over again. We are not to keep track of how many times we forgive someone rather we are to submit to Jesus and forgive and then move on. I have come to the realization that God will handle the offender toward me but only if I forgive the offense. It has been amazing to see how God has worked in the lives of others just as it is amazing to see how God works in my own life. None of us are perfect because we still live in a fallen world. One day we will be made complete, perfect, and whole but until that day comes we must keep forgiving wrongs lodged against us. Only through Jesus does this happen. I don’t know how it works but I know it works. Forgiveness comes and life moves on and my life is good. I love that about God’s work inside my heart.
Life will always have storms that come to break our human spirit. That is why the next passage is such an encourager to me. God doesn’t say that Christians won’t suffer, rather God’s word tells us to expect to suffer but don’t worry when it happens because God is in control and all will be well. It might not be how we want things to be, but it will undoubtedly be how God wants things to be.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. James 1:2-8, (ESV).
As you review the year that is nearly over I hope that you can count it all joy as well. There have been tough times and I have no doubt that tough times will also be ahead but in the midst of the storms of life I can have peace and joy knowing that what I suffer is for something great that I can’t see. God is in control and the revolution has begun inside my heart and will continue until God sees fit to call me home to Him, then I will have complete perfection. That is encouraging to me and I hope to you as well.
Until next time…Katherine