As 2020 came to a close, so many needed a good year. We had just come out of a historically unprecedented pandemic. We were tired…tired of the changes, tired of the restrictions, tired of politics, tired of all of the fighting, and ready to get back to some sense of normalcy. We needed 2021 to be a relief year. We were looking forward to some peace and some reprieve. Alas, very few got what they were hoping for. In fact, the vast majority of what I just described, continued. The pandemic continued with the launching of new variants that kept the world restricted, fearful, and in turmoil. Businesses continued to suffer, gas prices started to soar, unrest in the Middle East reared its ugly head again, and the inflation monster came out of hiding, leaving us all to feel the strain of tighter resources. Things didn’t get better; they got worse! Personally, I can say that the last two years have probably been the hardest that we’ve had in ten years, 2021 being the hardest yet. We’ve had more attacks, gossip, betrayal, & accusations than I can every remember. We’ve doubted our calling, wanted to quite, felt ineffective, felt like everything was falling apart, felt misunderstood, disrespected, and otherwise at our whit’s end most of the last year. More than once I have said, “this has been the hardest year in ministry yet.” What’s more, as I looked around, other ministers were having similar experiences. The enemy seemed bent on stealing, killing, and destroying ministers and their ministries all across the nation. Most of us are probably tempted to just throw that year away and forget that it ever happened. But what I want you to know is that God was at work! 2021 wasn’t a throw-away year. It was a year of preparation. Here’s what I felt God saying to me recently.
2021 was a year where dreams were made to come true. If you aren’t careful, you will miss it for all the pain, uncomfortable changes, persecutions, and the like. But the Lord was working! He was developing in you the necessary ingredients for success. (Pause and consider that for a moment. This was a diamond forming year, and you are the diamond. As you know, diamonds are formed under pressure. God didn’t cause all of the misery, but He is the Master of knowing how to use it to advance both you and His kingdom. You are being set up for success…for greatness, if you choose to see it and get your mind right). Don’t fix your eyes on the difficulty. Fix your eyes on the good things. Think about it. What did God do? Don’t look at what he didn’t do, but what he did. What did he do? His kingdom was expanding and advancing. Ask Him to show you where. Ask him to show you what he was doing, to show the good, because there was good. Don’t miss this. Dwell on the good. Move yourself back into gratefulness. Let the good encourage your soul. Let it set you free from the pain of what didn’t happen…and in some cases what did.
I know for my family personally, not only were we being formed into a diamond (and I believe this has to do specifically with our destiny in God and what we will accomplish with Him in the future), but we had 2 life-long dreams actually come true in 2021. It’s amazing looking back, and it’s so easy to miss it for all of the other pressure that we faced. Not only is it easy to miss, it’s easy to dismiss! And this is the challenge of the Lord to you today. Don’t miss what He did. Shift your focus off of the bad and onto the good. This is our clear instruction in Phil 4: 4-9. Note that peace is the result! So, in light of the Lord’s encouragement, I sat down and counted my blessings. To my surprise, they were numerous in 2021! I think if you give God a moment to remind you, that you too will be surprised at all of the good that has come out of 2021. And I would say to you that the best is yet to come!
2022 is going to be a good year! How can I be so confident? Because it’s a year that He has made (Ps. 118:24). Keep your eyes fixed on the author and finisher of your faith! (Heb. 12:2) Don’t let the enemy steal another year from you. God is with you (Jdg 6:12). And God is fore you. If God be fore you, who can be against you?! (Rom.8:31) Happy New Year!