As 2014 draws to a close, we reflect on our actions, behaviours and attitudes over the past 365 days, and think of how we can grow from them in the 365 to come.
For me, this year has been one of high highs and low lows. I bought and moved into a place of my own, where I am living peacefully and contently. I was privileged to travel to beautiful places throughout the year and see amazing sights. I led a Bible study and grew through it (and, hopefully, others grew through it as well). I experienced real and sincere friendship, and was able to see family and friends marry and commit their lives to the Lord in that way. On the other hand I grieved with friends over death, and almost saw death in action first hand. I saw a community of people exploited, uprooted and moved out of sight (and mind). I struggled with my health and (perhaps still) spiritual walk, and anguished over loved ones who are spiritually cold or dead. And what not to say about all the news of the year of revolutions, persecutions, the rise and embellishment of terror states, air tragedies and indifferent corruption. Indeed, many people will carry the memory of this year as a scar in their minds.
What encouragement, then, is it meditate on the promises which God has made! To know that our earthly fortunes are not an indication of our standing with Him; that despite chaos, He remains in control; and that His plan for the world, nations, families and individual lives continue to unfold relentlessly. The goal is not our happiness and prosperity: rather, it is the glory of God (of which, He has promised, our eventual fate forms and important part).
As we go into the new year, let us pray for the things that will bring glory to God: that our friends and family will come to know Him; that those who do know Him—and we ourselves—will grow in love, patience, humility, self-sacrifice and wisdom; that our work may honour Him; that our families may reflect Him to the outside world; that our leaders may come to know and fear Him; that we may have means to not be a burden to others, and even serve others with what we have; that sickness may depart from us and those around us (because it is a symptom of the fallen world); and that we may live another day or year to act out our salvation.
If you are reading this, then know that the night is not yet over. There is a light that brings illumination to the world, and one day there will be no more darkness. I do hope that God does grant you a prosperous and happy new year (and I hope that you may be encouraged by my articles). But our happiness is not our ultimate goal: it (and simultaneous and sincere heartache) is incidental to it. Until then we continue with our work in the night shift, being comforted by our Lord, and are encouraged by the brothers and sisters who work alongside us.
He showed me a river if water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On this side of the river on on that was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruits, yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. There will be no curse any more. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His servants serve Him. They will see His face, and His name will be on their foreheads. There will be no night, and they will need no lamp light; for the Lord God will illuminate them. They will reign forever and ever.