As I look back over this year, I am in awe of how God has worked in our lives. He took the plans I had for 2014 and expanded them beyond my wildest dreams. I am humbled and grateful for the blessings He bestowed upon us this year. But I can remember in the past, as December was drawing to a close, reflecting back on the year and feeling more like God had abandoned me than blessed me. From posts I see on Facebook lately, I know that there are people experiencing both feelings as they prepare to say goodbye to 2014. Some are looking forward to the end of the year, hoping for better in 2015. Others are hoping that the blessings they’ve experienced in 2014 will continue into 2015. And yet none of us knows what the future might hold.
In the blink of an eye, things can change. The life we know can be turned upside down. The pastor at church spoke of the life changing event that occurred for Mary. Clearly that was something she hadn’t planned to have happen in her life. Pregnant and not married? Pregnant but the man she’s engaged to is not the father? The moment the angel told her of God’s plan for her life, everything changed.
Sometimes it is hard to accept the changes—especially the ones that seem negative—when we thought we were already following God’s will. In my book, FAITH, HOPE & LOVE, Quinn believes that he and his wife are on the right path. They followed God’s call to become missionaries and are serving Him in that capacity in a foreign country. A good thing, right? So why would God suddenly change that plan on them? How could being kidnapped and ripped from his family be a good thing? Quinn saw it as being pulled from God’s plan for his life, not that God had actually planned this for his life.
With our limited view of the world and even our own life, so often we forget that God sees the big picture. Only He knows the true impact of our journey through the trials or blessings in our life. I think of the ripples that spread outward in the water when a stone is dropped into it. We may never know the impact of those ripples on the lives of people—not just those close to us, but those on the very outskirts of that ripple effect.
How we deal with the trials that come our way can have an impact on the people we come in contact with. A dearly loved family member has spent this past year battling cancer. Definitely not something any of us ever want to face. Not something we ever want to plan into our lives. Yet so many people end up facing this trial. As I’ve watched her on this journey and read her Facebook posts and the emails she’s sent, it’s been clear from what she’s shared that not only have people been placed in her path to encourage her but to also be encouraged by her. She is touching people’s lives because of her trial. Perhaps in a way she never would have been able to without it.
One of the hymns sung in church yesterday was a good reminder for me that as I face trials and blessings in the year ahead I won’t always know the reasons why they have come my way.
Attr to W.B. Stevens
Tempted and tried, we’re oft made to wonder
Why it should be thus all the day long;
While there are others living about us,
Never molested, though in the wrong.
Farther along we’ll know more about it,
Farther along we’ll understand why;
Cheer up, my brother, live in the sunshine,
We’ll understand it all by and by.
Sometimes I wonder why I must suffer,
Go in the rain, the cold, and the snow,
When there are many living in comfort,
Giving no heed to all I can do.
The year ahead gives us the opportunity to trust more. To take to heart the verses that assure us that God is with us.
You can make many plans, but the Lord’s purpose will prevail. Proverbs 19:21 (NLT) I have clung to this verse many times in the past. As a planner, I struggle to let go of plans I’ve made in order to make way for the plans God has for me. This is especially hard when it seems His plans include trials I don’t want to have to deal with.
I hope that when God places change in my path this coming year I have the response of Mary to the angel who brought her the news of the life-changing events that lay ahead for her. “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Luke 1:38 (NIV)
How has your year been? Is 2014 a year you’d rather forget? Or one that will remain in your memory forever? I pray that as each of us face this next year we will do so with the confidence that nothing that happens to us takes God by surprise. It would be wonderful if the next year only held good and easy things for all of us, but I think we know that’s a little unrealistic. So instead, I pray for peace and joy in the midst of whatever may come our way.
Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. I Thessalonians 5: 16 – 18 (NIV).
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