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 By Shari Abbott, Reasons for Hope* Jesus

 With the close of each year we reflect back on the many people who crossed our paths, the places that we went, the events we attended, and the activities that we engaged in.  Usually we focus on the fun and joyful times, the positive and hopeful, forward-direction of our lives.  But what about a year that was NOT a good year?  A year in which there were more sad times and trials than successes and joy?

When we celebrate a  year that we evaluate as a “good” year, we are quick to say, “Thank You Jesus, I have been blessed.” 

But what about a year in which….

A relationship was damaged or broken — and efforts to restore it failed?

A friend or family member moved, rejected us, or died?  

Educational or professional problems abounded?  Or a job was lost? 

Financial problems increased, maybe even to a point of not being able to be resolved?

Emotional problems escalated, maybe even to a point of being overwhelming?

The doctor said, it’s cancer…or some other life-altering or life-threatening illness or disease?

A personal or work-related project just didn’t turn out as planned?

Situational strife caused doubt, worry, anxiety, fear, despair — some of which might even still linger. 

…and the list goes on and on.

When the year reflected any, or many, of those things, how are we still able to say…”Thank you Jesus, I have been blessed?”  When the year isn’t filled with joy and successes do we still think God is good?  

The answer lies in remembering Who God is and that He works according to His nature and character.  God is love and God is eternal. God is faithful, and merciful and true. God is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient. God is transcendent, sovereign and righteous. God is wise, just and good. God is immutable, infinite, incomprehensible. . . and God is Holy.  

Remembering Who God is reminds us that we can trust in His goodness in all things, for He is faithful in His character:

Deuteronomy 32:4  He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment [justice]: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.

We might not understand why He is doing, or allowing, something in our lives, but we can remember that He has told us…

Isaiah 55:9  For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.

We can also trust in His plan and purpose for our lives, believing…

1 Thessalonians 5:18 …for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.

Are we able and ready to say that a difficult and trying year was God’s will for us?  Can we agree with Joseph who understood that in all the trials he endured “God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day…” (Genesis 50:20)?  

God has a purpose and plan in everything, including our sufferings.  Perhaps it helps to remember what God tells us in His Word about suffering and tribulation: 

Tribulation works patience  (Romans 5:3)

God comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (2 Corinthians 1:4)

But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ….that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,(Philippians 3:7,10)

Through the journey of life our sufferings and tribulations are never easy.  Though a difficult year may have seemed long and burdensome, there are always blessings to be found.  Don’t miss them, for the greatest blessing is His presence:  

John 14:27  Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.

Philippians 4:19  But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

2 Corinthians 12:9  And he [Jesus] said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

If 2013 didn’t hold very many successes and joyous times, consider the trials, the difficulties, and the pain,  and remember…

Romans 8:28  we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. 

Romans 8:18  For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.

Then turn to God remembering…

1 Peter 5:6-7  … humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.

1 Peter 5:9-11 … knowing that the same sufferings are experienced by your brotherhood in the world. But may the God of all grace, who called us to His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen, and settle you.  To Him be the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.

The reason we can say, Thank you Jesus, I have been blessed” in all circumstances is because our true blessing comes in knowing that God cares for us and has called us to eternal glory.  By the life, death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, God has given us the greatest blessing of all.  And while things in this life can be broken or taken away from us, our relationship with Jesus will never be.   

So whether 2013 was a “good” year or a “disaster”…   

In every thing give thanks:

for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.  

1 Thessalonians 5:18

Thank you Jesus!

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