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As we come to the close of this year, we are also coming to the close of a very difficult and life changing 3-year period, 2020-2022. These first 3 years of the current decade of the 20’s have left many of our loved ones dead and buried; that includes my own father.
These 3 years marked the end of ministries, and ministers. Worse than that; dreams and aspirations, visions and missions, died in these 3 years of the valley of shadow of death.
But this is a message of joy and hope, of thanks and gratitude to the Lord for all the good that He has done.
How can we turn the pain and sad memories to a message of joy and hope, of thanks and gratitude?
First, understand it is a matter of choice, not a matter of feelings; a matter of resilience and resolution not a matter of instinctive and sentimental response to the painful memories of yesterday.
We give thanks to God by choice even in the midst of pain and suffering, as Job taught us: “Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?”
Job 2:6 And the LORD said to Satan, “Behold, he [is] in your hand, but spare his life.” 7 So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD, and struck Job with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. 8 And he took for himself a potsherd with which to scrape himself while he sat in the midst of the ashes. 9 Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!” 10 But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
“In all this Job did not sin with his lips” – the key to encourage us to turn this moment into a time of joy and hope, of gratitude and thanks!
Satan spoke through Job’s wife during that critical time of choice between life and death. She said to her husband “Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!”
It was a temptation to cause Job to choose death. Had Job accused God in his heart for all the adversity, he would have sinned and chosen death for himself.
When he resisted the tempter and held fast to his integrity, he chose life and thus caused light to shine in the darkness he was in. Indeed, life in abundance manifested after he had overcome the temptation to blame God for all the adversity; so, we read at the end of the book of Job:
Job 42:12 Now the LORD blessed the latter [days] of Job more than his beginning; for he had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, one thousand yoke of oxen, and one thousand female donkeys.
When adversity strikes, it is the moment of challenge, when the truth that is in our hearts will be revealed. In times of adversity, death, devastation, loss, pain, and suffering; that is when the truth of what’s hidden deep in our heart is being revealed.
This is a good time to remember these words which can make the difference, and may potentially determine what will prevail in our lives; light or darkness? Life or death?
Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to [His] purpose.
2 Corinthians 12:9 … “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 … when I am weak, then I am strong.
God’s strength is being made perfect in us at the times of adversity, while we are in weakness by the measures and the standards of this world. When it feels like we have died to our dreams, visions, aspirations, even ministry itself, that is a good time for the resurrection power that raised Jesus from the dead to manifest.
However, for that to happen… for life to prevail over death, and for God’s light to shine and dispel the darkness that has seemingly overtaken us, it is important that we do not blame God in our hearts for all the bad and the pain, for all the death and destruction that may have hit us hard.
Rather, this is a time to give thanks to the Lord for all the good things that He has done whilst we’d been walking through the valley of the shadow of death.
Looking into the future, what is our destiny that was written from before the foundation of the world? A glimpse into the new year – what does it look like? What is the Lord revealing to us about our destiny in the particular time frame of the new year? And perhaps of the next seven years?
Habakkuk 2:1 I will stand my watch and set myself on the rampart, and watch to see what He will say to me, and what I will answer when I am corrected. 2 Then the LORD answered me and said: “Write the vision and make [it] plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it.
Give thanks for the past and close the door to 2022. Look into the door of 2023 and walk in it.