Here comes a new year full of exciting opportunities, cool adventures, and surprising joys … and a new year full of disappointment, unmet expectations, and unexpected suffering. I wish I could pick which year it will be. The reality is that I imagine it will be a strange mix of both the good and the bad. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a optimist by nature, but have become a realist by experience. Here’s the truth of it all – the good is a gracious gift from your Heavenly Father and the bad is never beyond the grace of God to sustain and sanctify you. So embrace it all. Cherish it all!
Cherish means to “hold something dear.” What is dear about the tough stuff you’ll face this year? (1) God never wastes anything you face (2) God is near to you (3) There is a great opportunity for you to grow more through the pain than the pleasant (4) You just may have a stronger witness by how you walk through suffering than you’d ever have when life is easy.
Think about how little people pay attention to ease and how keenly they consider pain. Or how we describe easy days as “uneventful” while hard days we labor to describe in detail. You may not fancy yourself an evangelist or even like talking to people about Jesus, but your strongest witness this year may just be how you walk the difficult path of unexpected suffering. Will you do it with steadfastness? Will you do it with contentedness? Will you do it looking upward to your King? Will you cherish it? I’m not saying you have to like it, but will you “hold it dear” knowing that it just may be a gracious gift God is giving you for your growth AND for your witness to a lost world.
Pray for evangelistic doors to be open for you in 2017, and then hold dear whenever and however He opens them. You just may be an evangelist after all!
- Mark Spansel