Has 2021 been a good year or a bad year for you? I would imagine that for all of us it has been both. Certainly, we cannot ignore the impact of Covid and perhaps you have lost someone you love…or had to quarantine yourself once or twice. Maybe it has been the ongoing unrest within our country and the constipation of politics.
If there is one thing I know for certain relative to me, my year, and my mental health is I cannot put my hope in finding fulfillment from the things of this world. They are too chaotic, and things seem to me to be going from bad to worse. Jesus, Himself told His disciples on His last night with them before being captured…
“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.
In the world you will have trouble.
But take heart; I have overcome the world.”
Here is the contrast we find ourselves in perhaps even daily. The place where we can find peace is in Christ…but the place we can find trouble is in the world. Jesus brings us peace between our Father and ourselves. He has paid the penalty for all our sins and given to us the free gift of our forgiveness.
However, at the same time, He tells us that in this world we will have trouble. This word trouble can be translated in several ways in addition to trouble. It can be translated as tribulation or affliction. And that is what Jesus was promising His disciples they would experience…TROUBLE, TRIBULATION, AND AFFLICTION.
Probably not a passage preached in most churches holding to the prosperity gospel. There are those who truly believe that God is ready to bless their socks off and that will happen if you give money to Pastor Creflo Dollar who wants to buy a 65-million-dollar personal Gulfstream G650 jet to help him spread the gospel. (Lord, please allow me to be in the audience while he tries to explain that to you sitting on your judgment seat…but I digress!)
So, how can we as followers of Jesus living in this crazy world end this year well and begin 2022 as we should? I do not think it is complicated. In fact, like anything else in life if it becomes part of your daily routine it becomes easy and a joy to be doing. In a word it is GRATITUDE.
When we can become a people of God’s expressing thanksgiving and gratitude for who God is and for what God has already done and continues to d…we will find Him giving to us whatever we need to overcome the trouble in this world.
It is when we have become like spoiled children always wanting more instead of being thankful for what we already have that we take our eyes off of Him and look for fulfillment in other things…and those other things never have the capacity to fulfill what we are longing for in our hearts.
So, I want to give you an example of how I express gratitude to my Father, my Savior and Lord, and the Holy Spirit. It is not difficult but will require we take our eyes off of our own wants and desires and express thanksgiving to who God is and what God has done is doing and will continue to do in the future. My prayers go something like this…
“Abba Father, Lord Jesus, Holy Spirit I give to you thanks and praise for who you are. You are the one and only true God, the Creator, and Sustainer of this universe in which I live.
You know all things and have always known all things. You knitted me together in my mother’s womb and I am fearfully and wonderfully made. You know my beginning and before there was one day in my life You know how many days I will live.
I worship You because You alone are the one true God…almighty, all knowing, and above all Holy…as the angels sing…
“Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord God Almighty.
Heaven and Earth are full of Your Glory!”
I bow before you this morning to worship and adore you. Thank you that before the creation of the world you chose me to be one of your children. In love you predestined me to be one of your family members. You redeemed me from my sins through the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Thank you for giving to me the gift of my salvation, forgiving all of my sins…past, present and future.
Thank you for sealing me with the Holy Spirit as my guarantee of my inheritance in heaven. And even when I was dead in my sins and transgressions, because of Your great love for me you chose to give me eternal life to be spent in heaven with You.
Thank you that even though I took my liberty and choose to dive into sexual sin you have rescued me from my own horrible choices. And as I walk in the light as You are in the light the blood of Jesus cleanses me from all my sin and I can have fellowship with other men in this same battle.”
And I go on from there to pray for my wife, our kids, their spouses, and our grandchildren. I pray that God will be a shield around us and will lead us not into temptation and deliver us from evil. Then I go on to pray for whatever the Lord lays on my heart…including prayers for you.
As I have done this almost daily over the past 16 years a deep sense of gratitude has formed in me. I can rejoice with thanksgiving always because I know He holds me in His hands, and nothing will ever separate me from His eternal and unconditional love.
So, let’s go into the new year not with setting goals we will never reach about the earthly things of life. Let us be a people of gratitude and thanksgiving and let God handle the rest.