December 5

Twelve months equals a year. Our lives are short, and each year feels like it is a giant snowball rolling down a hill picking up speed, getting closer to its final destination.

  • Psalm 39:4-7 “LORD, make me to know my end And what is the extent of my days; Let me know how transient I am. Behold, You have made my days as handbreadths, And my lifetime as nothing in Your sight; Surely every man at his best is a mere breath. Selah. Surely every man walks about as a phantom; Surely they make an uproar for nothing; He amasses riches and does not know who will gather them. And now, Lord, for what do I wait? My hope is in You.”

This is why Jesus says “do not worry about tomorrow” (Matthew 6:34), and James says to not make definitive plans in our lives since we don’t know the future, but instead we should say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.” (James 4:13-25).

But, when we get to the end of a 12-month cycle, I believe it is very beneficial and rewarding to reflect back on the last year. Think of all the things God has done for you. Think about the fact that while the future wasn’t promised to you, He has still blessed you immensely. His sovereign grace means He has carefully cared for each step of each day. He gave you trials, successes, blessings, and even sad events to help strengthen you, teach you, and work in you:

  • Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.

As mentioned a couple months ago, if you’re called by God and you love Him, then you know that whatever happens in your life works for good. This is what Joseph said in Genesis 50:20 after having be abused by his brothers, sold into slavery as a young teen, wrongly imprisoned, and later raised up as second in command to the Pharaoh:

  • “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good…”

This is the story of our lives if we look back far enough. I remember after my College & Career Days that I was living in the Midwest and had some really bad experiences that moved me back to Rochester. Meanwhile, my wife had moved down to Charlottesville with her Mom, and after her Mom moved over to Richmond a short while later (leaving Alicia in Charlottesville), she ended up with some struggles, loneliness, a wacky roommate, problems, and so forth. These events convinced her to move back to Rochester. It was God moving the two of us only a couple miles away from each other, and her finding me working at a city church plant that brought us back together and ultimately led to us getting married a few months later. Neither of us could look at our struggles and think, “Yay! Glad I went through those!”, or “These are fun”, or “This will lead to marriage”. But, both of us see how God orchestrated events in our lives to bring us together, to serve together, and to raise four wonderful children.

  1. For Thankful Thursday, look back at the past year:
    1. What have been some struggles, problems, and heartaches you’ve experienced this last year? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
    2. And, what have been some of the victories, reasons to celebrate, and great blessings of the year? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
  2. Now for the hard part: Thank God for what you’ve written down on bothlists!
    1. Feel free to tell Him how hard it is to be thankful for the things on the first list, but thank Him anyway.
    2. And thank Him that all these things have worked together for good.
    3. Thank Him that He has a divine plan that doesn’t leave things to random chance.
    4. Thank Him that He’s intimately involved with His people.
    5. Thank Him for how He has built up your faith in both the trials and the good times.
    6. Thank Him for the great future He has planned for you.