Another year, come and gone. 2014 is breathing its last. Admittedly, this year has held some not so great days. It has been one of the hardest, most stretching years of my life. I’m not a child anymore, and this year I was forced to taste adulthood in small ways. This year has left a bittersweet taste in my mouth, and as much as I could linger, or regret, or wish for could-have-beens, I am choosing to accept that this year has been what it has been.
In the hard things I have found more than sorrow, I have found a blessing. Standing fast in hard things forces you to not lean on your own understanding, not to lean on emotions, and to look a little bit more understandingly and frequently at Jesus. Fighting to accept with joy the hard circumstances (and not always winning) but fighting nonetheless brings peace. Face to face with unwanted realities, you are forced to make a decision, but this time in your heart, not just your head: do I believe that God is completely Sovereign? I know this to be true, but in my heart of hearts, do I believe it? When I finally say yes, even though I don’t understand, the trust between me and my Savior is deeper, and sweeter. God has asked deeper surrender and trust in Him of me than I have ever known this past year, and the surrender has been painful, and not easy, and an ongoing process. But through the tears, and the hard, hard days in which I could barely see the light of day, I am learning to know deeper and more fully that He is for me and with me; He is good, even if I don’t feel like it. The days of trudging are building endurance. That doesn’t mean I understand, but He has carried me through this year, and I trust Him more deeply than I did at the beginning of the year.
Don’t give up in the face of your trials, my friends, whatever this past year may have held, no matter what you’re still going through. Look through them; God is refining you in His fire, for His glory and for your good, and He always has lessons He wants to teach you through the trials. He will help you see them, and help you learn, if you let Him!
Now, I look forward to all this next year will hold. Many things will change; this I know. I will be attending Gospel for Asia’s School of Discipleship, and it will be my first time living away from home. But He has chosen this season for me, and I know He has much purpose in it, and many good things in it. I don’t think I have seen or understood all of the lessons of 2014, but that is okay. It will come in due time, and I will not forget the Lord’s faithfulness in this year. There have been hard things, and there will continue to be hard things, but nevertheless I press on. God has chosen this season for me, and I accept with joy. He is good, and I trust Him.
These two verses I cling to at the turn of the year:
Yet, my brothers, I do not consider myself to have “arrived”, spiritually, nor do I consider myself already perfect. But I keep going on, grasping ever more firmly that purpose for which Christ grasped me. My brothers, I do not consider myself to have fully grasped it even now. But I do concentrate on this: I leave the past behind and with hands outstretched to whatever lies ahead I go straight for the goal—my reward the honour of being called by God in Christ. Philippians 3:12-14 (PHILLIPS)
Do not call to mind the former things, or ponder things of the past. Behold, I will do something new, now it will spring forth: will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, rivers in the desert. Isaiah 43:18-19 (NASB)
I am excited to see what new things He is going to do in me and you this year. Keep your eyes open, keep pressing on! God is for you, God is with you, and He will never forsake you.
An anthem for the new year:
P.S. And if you still want to give a tax deductible end of year gift but don’t know where to give, I encourage you to prayerfully consider donating to my support for the School of Discipleship (I am currently at 24%!) or donating to help Gospel for Asia share the love of Christ in Asia. You can make a difference with any size of gift, and you will get a tax break through it too! 🙂