Reflecting on 2015 & Welcoming 2016

2015 is a difficult year to review. Engulfed by struggle, loss and forced new beginnings, nothing about 2015 was easy or comfortable but reflecting on the year proves to be encouraging.

Here are three areas to take reflecting on 2015 deeper and to frame the fresh beginning 2016 brings.

Reflect on the Blessings

Blessings don’t always come in the form of green rectangles, first cries of a newborn, or endless days of vacation. When we focus on big blessings we miss the nourishment and encouragement small wonders provide each day.

  • God’s active kindness is apparent when the stranger at the grocery store says to a frazzled mom, “Go ahead of me.”
  • His steadfast nature comes through when we’re able to love through our frustration or receive love when we’re not at our best.
  • God’s sustaining hands reach out when a friend brings a meal over or mingled with the bills is a note of encouragement.

Where did you see God blessing you in 2015?

Reflect on the Struggles

Our image-oriented culture avoids revealing deep struggle. We say we’re “doing well” and snap selfies proving we’re on top of the world but just below the surface hearts are falling apart. We avoid difficulties, even the mere appearance of strain, and we miss out

  • Once we’ve experienced an affliction we can often recognize it in those around us and be part of the blessing, if only by quietly praying. We become softer towards those in the midst of a struggle because we received God’s mercy and compassion. If you’re in the middle of a battle receive encouragement from the survivors around you. Give space for the stories of God’s faithfulness and allow your heart to be saturated and renewed.
  • Struggle breaks down self-reliance and builds our confidence in God’s provision for the smallest details. Forced to abide in God we learn to relax because our best-laid plans don’t compare to the generous care of our Lord.
  • Difficulties prepare us to face the next struggle on the path. The heartache of 2003 and financial struggles of 2008 shaped and prepared me for the barrage 2015 flung my way. Those years forced me to abide in God and showed me on every level He care for me.

What struggle(s) do you need to be honest about?

Reflect on the Triumphs

Celebrating victories is dicey. Within the church community words are carefully chosen to insure God is given all the glory. Yes, God receives all the glory, but more often we’re protecting our image. We Carefully tuck triumphs away avoiding the appearance of pride, conceit or heartlessness towards those in the middle of a battle.

In our contracting world it is imperative that we remind each other that right here, right now God is at work. Life can’t be all about struggle all the time. That’s like eating the dip and never a chip.

The crux? We must share the struggle to share the victory.

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A Final Thought on Struggle & Triumphs

A close friend recently checked-in on my son’s struggle to keep his hands, feet and object to himself.

I paused and scrolled though a mental catalog of the past six months.

Where was his hitting file? My fingers began to tap as I continued to search in the privacy of my mind. I then realized the strides we’ve made (with God’s help of course). It hit me hard, I move from struggle to struggle never taking time to appreciate growth.

At the risk of being disappointed it is vital to reflect regularly. One squinty-eyed finger-tapping day we’ll be amazed by the growth and transformation.

As we tick into a new year, let’s take time to reflect. Let’s marvel at the smallest ways God has blessed us and rejoice in His abundant provision. Let’s nourish hearts and flood the world around us by sharing God’s faithfulness and the hope we have. And when the struggles come, let’s take heart in the blessing God is giving others.

Welcome 2016!

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