God Life

A year of contradictions and focusing on what’s important in 2016

It’s been an interesting year. I’ve learned a lot about disappointment and how God is actually present and moving in our disappointment to purify our hearts and draw us closer to Him.

I consider myself blessed to experience difficulties, criticism and disappointments because God isn’t about giving us everything we want. God gives the faithful what they need; the world seeks to sell us what we want, and far too often we are willing buyers. I choose the former, because God is good and His grace is not cheap and flimsy, but rather, it is concrete, costly and eternal.

I’ve also learned a lot about being thankful for the amazing ways God blesses us, even though at times we take this for granted. It’s hard to see God’s blessings when we are blinded by our self-guided wants and desires. When we are focused on those things which God hasn’t blessed us with—those things “we truly desire”— we won’t see or appreciate the multiple ways God truly provides and cares for us.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. — James 1: 2-4

The New Year is about starting fresh, about making positive changes and about hoping for the best. But the truth is that every year we live will come with a mix of good and bad, hope and despair, success and failure, peace and crisis, life and death. That’s reality.

But God has entered into reality to bring hope into the chaos of contradictions we will face in our lives. There is hope for 2016, not because we will earn more money, get a better job, lose weight or realize our “full potential.” There’s hope because God in Christ has given us new life for the present and a promise to give us eternal life forevermore.

There’s hope for 2016 because God is restoring our lives in preparation for His coming Kingdom on earth.

May you see God’s provision and love in 2016, not just in the blessings you want, but also in the blessings you need; those blessings that come through disappointment  and difficulties which are often God’s way of telling us that He cares for us enough to let us struggle so we can draw closer to Him and truly understand what’s important in life.

Josh is an award-winning faith and culture writer and the author of the upcoming book, God Incognito: Bonhoeffer's Theology of the Cross for the Trump Era and Beyond. He holds a master's degree in theology from Tyndale Seminary in Toronto and is the recipient of the Dr. Ross and Carol Bailey Theology Award. He lives in Murillo, Ontario with his wife and their two adorable daughters and has a column at ChristianWeek.org.

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