We are smack in the middle of our holiday celebrations, and heading headlong into the new year. I’m thinking we should pause for just a moment to consider this past year and all we have experienced. What has happened to us personally? What challenges have we faced? What obstacles have we overcome? What great and joyous events have we experienced? What tragedies and sorrows have we endured? These are questions we should probably be asking ourselves.

I have heard oftentimes persons express the view they are ready to see the current year in their rearview mirror. More or less writing off what, to them, has been a bad year. Is that how we should look at this year past? Do we have nothing to celebrate that happened? Have we no blessings to be grateful for?

Sometimes its hard taking stock of all that has come our way in a particular year. We tend to remember poignantly all the times where we experienced pain, sadness, defeat, humiliation, setbacks, devastation, mountains and valleys, and grief. The events we have lived through tend to shape our opinion of the year we’ve lived through.

I read recently something which stated those who look at life with pessimism and cynicism, tend to experience all events in those terms. Those who look with optimism and joy, tend to experience all events in those terms. How true that really seems to be.

So much of what occurs for us is painted with a brush dipped in our own personal perspective. Life really is what we make of it. For myself, I tend to skew toward a realism, trying to see life as it is. I don’t like to skip over or discount those painful and tragic things which I experience, nor do I want to dwell on them to the point where they consume me.

In this past year I have experienced so much love from so many. I have been blessed to have a good number of thoughtful people in my life who check in on me. Even though there have been some real hurdles I’ve had to navigate over, I am surrounded by persons who have drive and determination. They have partnered with me to not let issues and events block the goals we have been reaching for. There have been stresses and occurences which have threatened to derail plans and hopes, and yet I’ve found an enduring spirit in myself and those who share the same vision.

When I take a realistic look at this past year, I can conclude I have been blessed beyond measure. I have received better than I deserve, and I am humbled to realize how far God has brought me. I continue to learn more about me, and more about the God who loves me each and every day.

Yes, there have been difficulties to face. Yes, there has been some grief to travel through. Yes, there have been some defeats which at the time truly stung. All of what I could view as negative and challenging has the opportunity to paralyze me. It would be easy to write this year off and say, “I’m glad that’s behind me.” That’s not the case at all though. I’m truly grateful for all I’ve been through. God continues to strengthen me where I am weak, and blesses me to see so much come to fruition.

What has the year been like for you? What victories can you celebrate? What new things have you learned? Where has God been during this year for you?

I pray for each of us to see this year as one where God’s many blessings have been revealed and experienced. As we once again are renewed for the year ahead by the hope born at Christmas, let’s thank God for 2023, and look with expectant hearts to a blessed 2024.

I will take a short pause with our Wednesday Word from now until the first week of 2024. May God’s richest blessings be yours through the rest of this year.

Your companion on the Way,

Pastor Tom

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