This is the current joke running through the Internet right now- that 2016 has been a disaster. Thank God this year is over, let’s hope 2017 is better. People of the world have seemingly automatically agreed that this entire calendar year has just been catastrophic for the general human population. I realize that this year has held challenges- political decisions, the media, court rulings, riots, police shootings, terrorism, several well-loved celebrities passing away, and not to mention the presidential election that nearly tore our country apart.
Yet despite all this, I cannot latch on to the claim that “2016 has been a disaster for me”. I have laughed, I have loved, I have hugged, held, and been shown miraculous grace to have even lived another 365 days. That’s far from disaster.
We’ve absolutely had major issues this year, not only in our country but across the world. People are angry, and bitter and self-centered. Politicians are dishonest. Foreign terrors are real. Our country is incredibly divided in every way. From my point of view, the values of our society are quickly spiraling downward.
However, my life in 2016- or any other year for that matter- is far from disaster. I have a family that loves me. I have a roof over my head. I’ve formed new relationships and sustained old ones.
I’ve spent another 365 days with God watching over me and Jesus by my side.
I’ve lived through 365 opportunities to praise God for His love and mercy.
365 opportunities to spread love.
365 opportunities to live in joy.
I didn’t succeed everyday- there were several days I wasn’t praising God and I wasn’t living in joy.
But I still had the opportunity. That alone is enough to be thankful for. That alone is worthy of praise. The fact that I was even given another year to live is more than what I deserve.
The problems in the world will not define the happiness of my life.
The government officials elected, the court rulings, the opinions of the media and whatever else do not determine whether or not I am I living a happy, successful life.
Your happy, successful life is determined by what you do with what God has given you- whether it seems like a little or a lot. It’s defined by what you do with the people he placed in your life, the opportunities, the challenges, and even material blessings. The success of your life cannot be determined by things you cannot control. Whether or not 2016 was a success cannot be determined by what the world was doing around you, instead it should be defined by what God was doing within you. Do not throw away an entire year because things happen that are outside your control. This life we live on Earth has so many challenges, but because we live under God’s grace and love, it also has so many gifts.
With that being said, enter 2017 with the same outlook. You are about to embark on a 365 day journey filled with opportunities and people that can be part of God’s plan for you. You are about to be given another year to praise God and to live under his miraculous mercy and grace. You are about to receive more chances to grow into the child of God that you were designed to be. There will be struggles, and things will happen that you wish you could change, but don’t be surprised when you face heartache and disappointment. That’s to be expected, because we live in a broken world. But don’t discredit the blessings you receive because you’re too focused on the brokenness that you can’t control. Contentment in your life doesn’t come from outside circumstances, it comes from the peace and joy God has placed in your heart.
You have no idea what blessings and opportunities will unfold in 2017. And no matter what trials and struggles you find in this year, God can carry you farther.
“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
The workings of God within your heart are infinitely more important than the workings of heartache in the world.