“2016, The worst year ever!” It was an article’s headline in a local newspaper and quoted by my pastor at the beginning of the Christmas Eve service.
The sermon clearly depicted the sentiments of more than a few this holiday season. It’s not difficult to appreciate the verity of such a grim expression. For so many folks 2016 seemed to be filled with more than its fair share of losses, turmoil, and sadness. But then none of us was ever promised a world that would treat us fairly. God never vowed that all of the events in our short lives would be justified. In fact, the opposite should seem more likely as we trudge through our days in a fallen world.
As a Christian, I believe in the truth of Biblical teaching—the Word of God. And as a result, I remain mindful that all of us suffer the consequences of sin. But, even putting morals or belief systems aside, it’s clear that culturally we’re in the midst of changing times.
Darkness has always been countered by light. But lately it seems the former is progressively over-shadowing the latter. Any light is but a shimmer barely able to penetrate the dark veil of evil that eagerly shields the eyes of modern society.
In 2016, more than prior years, it seems everyone has a story reflecting pain or struggle, grief or remorse. Members of my own family counted more than ten loved ones whose time on earth seemed to end prematurely this year.
Of course, death is an inevitably accepted part of life. Still, for so many it came at the end of an exhausting and painful battle with cancer or disease. Few of life’s challenges test the faith more than a futile bout with a fatal disease that rapes a loved one of their dignity or sense of identity.
A Difficult Year
Personally, in my family, like countless others, a loved one’s demise was the result of a violent, senseless, and cowardly act of terrorism of one form or another. In June of this year, here in Orlando, our community suffered the effects of the most violent and deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman in U.S. history. Forty-nine people were killed and even more were injured. None of the survivors will ever forget 2016 but will be relieved to leave that night in their wake. We pray that time will begin to heal so many grief-stricken hearts and that their faith and hope will be renewed.
So understandably, bidding farewell to 2016 may come rather easily for quite a few. But we never know what tomorrow holds. Regardless, it’s up to all of us to inspire others with strength to persevere, and hope of renewal. Hope is a critically vital ingredient to enduring whatever the road ahead might reveal.
Everything Is Possible With God
As I’ve said in previous blogs http://drmarkmcd.com/2016/07/01/bad-things-happen-good-people/ God never said he won’t give us more than we can handle, contrary to the misunderstandings of some. However, throughout Scripture we’re encouraged to seek His help and strength in the face of any foe or fear. And in our ever-changing modern culture there are definite foes and fears blurring the lines between light and dark. As we move forward, where will we set those boundaries? Anything is possible with God. I’m reminded of one of the most memorable and poignant quotes of 2016.
“God is good. All the time.” C. Grimmie and K. O’Grody (simultaneously 6/10/16)
Within the noise and confusion of these chaotic days, it’s not hard for me to lose sight of the truth. After all, I’m responsible for allowing some of the lies to find their way in. But through owning my part I acknowledge the help God provides to keep the illusions at bay.
In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.
The Truth Co-Exists With Grace
What John meant was that our faith in God would allow any provisions to overcome the evil, pain, and grief that, regretfully, are such a part of this world. In accepting His Grace, we’d be wise to also accept responsibility for our part in adding to the darkness that continues to cloud our culture.
As my pastor so brilliantly explained on Christmas Eve, the truth (of our sin) co-exists in “tension” with God’s gift of Grace.
“We’re broken but redeemed” Dr. David Swanson
This is “good news” indeed!” God has always been our provider—in so many ways. At Christmas we celebrate the gift of the Son He provided, that gives us salvation and eternal life.
He further provides, through Grace (by definition, something we don’t deserve) the will and strength to survive any of the turmoil we should encounter in this world—disease, trauma, even death. He fills every void and casts light into every dark place.
So…to 2016 I say, “Good riddens! And don’t let the door hit you on the way out!”
Let Your Light Shine
But, let’s not forget, we bear some responsibility for this changing culture. It’s on us to inspire others with the “good news.”
Shine a light wherever there is darkness. Let hope reign over remorse, forgive the past while looking gratefully toward tomorrow. Happy New Year to everyone! May it be blessed the best yet.
Was 2016 difficult for you? Do you have renewed hope for the coming year? Share your thoughts.