As I look back, December 31st was more a "see ya!" to 2011 than a "yay 2012!"
Twenty-eleven had all the major stressors ...
* Health problems ...my husband's mother suffered a stroke last January, and my 7-year old niece continues to suffer from an autoimmune problem that has at times crippled her.
* Loss ...a close family friend lost their 5-month old baby boy very suddenly. We also remembered the 5th anniversary of my brother's death in Iraq.
* Big life changes ...my baby sister left for college and my parents left to begin their new mission work in Singapore
* Heartache ...our family has seen a divorce, the same as many other families ...but this one is ours.
* Disappointment ... my best friend and her husband lost their ministry job under very emotionally difficult circumstances that involved people we have loved and respected for many years. Because their loss involved our own church family, the weight has been doubled and has been incredibly difficult.
Yeah, its been a doozy. But, thankful his mercies are new every morning ...and they feel SUPER new every New Years! :)
God is always good. In and out of every situation ...good and "bad".
One blessing of the past few weeks has been our ladies class at church beginning Beth Moore's newest bible study titled, "James: Mercy Triumphs". I cheated, and started a few weeks early (they didnt officially start until this week) as I was seriously needing some nourishment ..I am so glad I did!
James' words have been especially poignant these past weeks, as I mentally reflect on the past year ..
"Consider it joy, my brothers, when you face trials of many kinds because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance." James 1:3Even more so ...
"Perseverance must finish its work, so that you may be mature and complete ...not lacking in anything." James 1:4
These verses have been reflective for me, as 2011 did indeed bring "trials of many kinds." But so also the blessings that come with the struggles, and the perseverance that has, as promised begun to develop.
I love how James follows up this encouragement in times of struggles with ..."Don't be deceived my brothers, every good and perfect gift comes from above coming down from the Father of heavenly lights who does not change like shifting shadows." James 1:17
Consider it joy ...faith develops perseverance ...every good and perfect gift comes from above.
Could it be that through the Spirit we are able to consider our trials joy ..and that we can see the resulting perseverance as a "good and perfect gift"?
I think so. And what a perfect gift it is.
What other good and perfect gifts can you "consider" coming from the trials of the past year..or ones that have already crept up in this one?