It has not been an easy year… At the beginning of 2010, I thought my biggest challenge was going to be adjusting to life post-2009: my first full year out of college, being grandparent-less, having some of my closest friends get married and changing the dynamic of our relationship. I could not have been more wrong.
But here I am on Thanksgiving day, and I could not be more thankful. For all other things that seemingly went wrong this year (and believe me, there are plenty if I were to list them all), I have seen God show up time and time again. I have opportunities that I don’t think I could have dreamed up even if I tried. I think if I had to sum up what this year was all about I could do it with a line from a song that I sang at our Sanctuary Dedication service this past Sunday…
“We give thanks to You, with gratitude, for lessons learned in how to trust in You; that we are blessed beyond what we could ever dream in abundance or in need.” – Nichole Nordeman, “Gratitude”
I’ve always had trouble fully grasping what the apostle Paul was talking about when he wrote to the Philippians,
“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through him who gives me strength.” – Philippians 4:12-13
Thankfully, I have never been in REAL need… in the sense, that I haven’t had a roof over my head or didn’t know where my next meal is coming from. I am extremely blessed. And truthfully, sometimes I forget that. But after the year that I have experienced with so many who have been in pain, who have been through suffering, who have so much need, I truly believe that a lot of what we have gone through has been a lesson in trusting God. It’s so easy to say we trust God, but it is when we’re going through the meat grinder that our words are actually put to the test. Crazy.
Earlier this year, our church went through a series about the biblical character Job. The biggest thing that stood out to me at the end of that series was this statement, “At the end of everything that Job went through, with nothing to his name, Job was content.”
I cannot imagine what it would be like to really lose everything and to at the end of this ordeal, be completely content. I cannot imagine what it is to be the apostle Paul – beaten, shipwrecked, persecuted – and to make that statement of being content in all situations. But in context, Philippians 4:13 makes SO MUCH MORE sense. Because whatever we might be facing, whether we’re Job, the apostle Paul, or a small American church in Simi Valley, we can do ALL things through Christ who gives us strength.
It has been such a crazy year, but with gratitude, I can say thank you God for bringing us through and sustaining us through this year. It’s not over yet, but I can say with certainty that I’m trusting You to get us through the rest of it too.
So Lord, I give thanks to you, with gratitude, for a year of lessons – some well learned and some still in the process of being learned – for a year of grace extended beyond my wildest imagination, for a year of dreams fulfilled & callings reshaped. For learning what it means to trust in you in good times and bad, when life is full of clarity and confusion, and when things aren’t always as they seem. For my family, for my friends, for my job, for my church, for my future and wherever you lead me, I give thanks. May I learn to be thankful throughout the year and not just on a day set aside for giving thanks. Be with my friends and family, both near and far, keep them safe and may you bless them! Amen.