It’s hard to believe the year is halfway over. We’re in the depths of winter here in the Southern Hemisphere, and is it cold! It may be hard for some of you to imagine as you may be experiencing record-breaking heat where you are and wishing for a glimpse of frost or snow. But, trust me, there’s something about being inside when it’s freezing outside that breeds contemplation. I started thinking about my word for 2016 as I sat, bundled in a merino top and fuzzy slippers, under my heat pump with my cat on my lap and the dog at my feet.
I’ve done this for several years in a row now (picking a word as well as migrating to where the warmth is!) I like the idea of seeking God for a direction for the year and then seeing what he does with that direction. Last year, the word was ‘joy’ and I believe he was faithful to show me so much about where my true joy is and even how to maintain that joy in the midst of trials. These lessons have carried over this year as well which is exciting to experience.
After much prayer and contemplation, I chose the word ‘thrive’ at the beginning of January. I had a feeling that some amazing things were on the horizon, and that I should be ready for them. I’ll admit, I had some specific ideas about this word. Something beyond just the success in the temporal matters of life.
I saw this word representing the flourishing of my mind, body, soul and spirit. The deepening of relationships. A greater dependence on God. And, yes, even some achievement in my writing. I believed this word was also in line with the nature and character of God and his plans for me.
I love what John the Apostle says in 3 John 2:
“Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.”
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that God means for our lives to go well. We Christians can become quite dour at times, resigning ourselves stoically to a life of suffering and pain, forgetting that we’re to live a life of abundance—with living water pouring out of us and transforming the landscape around us. We see ourselves too often as sinners saved by grace when, if you read the beginning of just about every letter Paul writes in the New Testament, we’re to address one another as saints! As co-heirs with Christ! As blessed, chosen, and beloved sons and daughters of God! Now that’s an inheritance.
That doesn’t mean that there are no trials, no challenges, no disappointments. Not at all. Jesus himself said we would experience all those things in this world, but he also reminded us to be encouraged because he has overcome the world. I believe when we see him working all things together for good—as he promised us in Romans 8:28—that we will see ourselves thriving under his love and goodness. Remember it doesn’t say that all things ARE good, but that he’s working them FOR good.
This process of working of things together for good reminds me of a woman who makes beautiful silver jewelry out of recycled silver clay. She can craft beautiful designs, rolling the silver out into intricate shapes, and when she’s finished, the piece goes into the fire. All the impurities are burned away. What’s left is a gorgeous locket or brooch that’s pure silver. That’s how God gets us to those places where we can thrive;we go through those trials so that the stuff that’s imperfect gets lifted to the surface and flushed away.
As I’ve reflected about the year thus far, I’ve seen God bring many imperfections in me out into the open, so he can deal with them. As painful as this can be—who likes the fire?—I know it’s an essential element to me thriving. There have been other areas where I’ve thrived as well. I’ve seen new friendships blossom, discovered new truths of who God is, and I’ve even had success with my writing. I’m anticipating the second half of 2016 with great expectancy. Of course it all won’t be easy, but I know that, in the Lord’s hands, I will thrive.
What about you? How’s the year gone so far? What challenges have you faced? How have you thrived? Let us hear from you in the comments below!
This post first appeared at Quills & Inkblotts