Back in April, I blew my back out, and, as a result, I’ve lived in pain for months. It’s affected my sleep, my ability to exercise, my weight, and my attitude in more ways than I like to admit. Of course, lots of people live with far worse than a bad back, but enduring chronic pain is new for me.
Recently, after months of acupuncture, physical therapy, and chiropractic treatment, my insurance finally approved a cortisone shot into my spine, and it’s helped. I’m very grateful for a measure of relief.
My back issue, however, was just one of the unexpected trials in my life during 2015. I won’t bore you with the list, but there were quite a few things I didn’t foresee and would rather have avoided.
What about you?
Was this past year everything you had hoped for and dreamed about?
Did you lose a good friend or a precious family member?
Perhaps your marriage ended or a child rebelled?
Maybe you were forced to deal with poor health or devastated finances?
I’m not trying to be negative or heartlessly attempting to drag you into a dark emotional place. However, at midnight on New Year’s Eve, millions of people thought, “Good riddance, 2015; I just hope 2016 doesn’t suck too!”
Certainly, there are lots of things you and I should be thankful for despite the anguish we suffered this past year. However, there’s probably a bit of fear about the unknowns in the future.
A thousand times in my life I’ve said, “Man, I didn’t see that coming!” Which, of course, makes me often wonder What else is about to shock and dismay me?
Part of my Bible reading this past week was in Genesis 50. It’s the tail end of the story of Joseph. Sold into slavery by his brothers, falsely accused by a woman scorned, thrown into prison, and then forgotten by a friend, Joseph eventually ends up the second most powerful man on the planet.
During his years of suffering, I wonder how often Joe sat in the dark on New Year’s Eve perplexed by his past and deeply concerned about his future.
Years later, as reported at the end of Genesis, his brothers come face-to-face with Joseph, and they’re terrified. If I’m Joe, I’m eating this up and can hardly wait to dish out some sweet revenge.
But in the last chapter, here’s what Joseph said:
“Don’t be afraid of me. Am I God, that I can punish you? You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.No, don’t be afraid. I will continue to take care of you and your children.” So he reassured them by speaking kindly to them. Genesis 50:19-21
Are you kidding me?
“Don’t be afraid . . . you meant to harm me, but God had another plan.”
I’m sure a brother or two peed himself just a little upon hearing those words.
But what if God is bigger than our past and our pain?
What if He has the desire, power and plan to turn something meant for evil into something good? (I’m thinking about a cross right now.)
What if it’s not just about us? What if the things we’re going through can help others?
Is it possible for God to use the very things or people that broke us to make us into the men and women He has destined us to become?
No matter what, can God take any surrendered life and redeem, restore and renew it?
Here’s the thing; I don’t know what’s coming this year, and neither do you. I hope there’s more good than bad. I’m praying for God’s favor and blessing in your life and mine.
But . . .
The best way we can prepare for the unknown—for what we can’t see coming—is to entrust our lives to the Father now.
He is good.
His plan is good.
He can bring something enormously good out of something terribly bad.
The fact is, on this side of eternity, you and I typically will live with many more questions than answers. We can plan and make all sorts of assumptions about our future, but we have very little control over the world around us.
So it’s best to decide in advance how to handle the unexpected—the pain and the disappointments in life.
I choose to believe in a good Father who has my best interest in mind and at heart.
What will you choose?
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