About a month ago I went to a speaking engagement for a well-known Christian speaker / preacher. I had heard a little about him before, and my main reason for going was that one of my friends who had recently started going to church with me seemed to think a lot of him. She had seen him on TV, and her family had also told her about him.
His message was a positive one…filled with hope and joy. But, there was something that bothered me about it. As I listened to the praise music, and then listened to his wife, and finally to him, I found myself wondering if he had ever faced true adversity. If he has, he didn’t mention it. And, praise God, I hope that’s true. But what that led to was my questioning if his message was “real”. Did it have substance? Could this really be the “best year of my life” as he indicated it could?
Candidly, no…this isn’t the best year of my life. And for some of you reading this blog, this wasn’t the best year of your life either. I can think of other years when my kids were really young and I saw the world with wonder and awe through their eyes. The year I was baptized (which was a number of years after realizing Christ as my Savior) was one in which I was on fire for God and incredibly close to Him. The year Kriss and I got back together after being separated a year and a half was a really good year…even before we reconciled, because we had become friends.
Every year that I can remember had its blessings and its heartaches. But, some were definitely “better” than others as a whole. God was in the midst of every year, and my faith does become stronger every year – so in that way, each year is better than the last. But, when it comes to the “best year of my life”…well, this year just doesn’t quite measure up.
Today’s message at church really summed it up – it comes from John 16:33, “In this world, you will have trouble”. But, in spite of that, “Take heart! I (Jesus) have overcome the world." Things will happen to us that we can’t control, but certainly we can control our response to them. As Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
I recognize that is easier said (or read) than done. In the midst of turmoil and pain, it is incredibly difficult to not be anxious and to continue to have a heart of thanksgiving. So this is an area in which I agree with that positive preacher – if we focus on the negative, that means we have taken our eyes off of God and His perspective, which will only move us away from His perfect will and His plan for our lives. “Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from Me, or seen in Me — put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you." (Philippians 4:8-9) We cannot “name it and claim it”. The “Law of Attraction” has some Biblical truth as shown in this Philippians passage, but many take it too far in believing that if they just think hard enough, focus enough, or even pray enough, they can cause something they want to happen in their lives. Reading the book of Job will show you that just isn’t the case. We are not ultimately in control. But Job does provide us a model for praising God in all circumstances, and that He will work all things together for good for those who love Him. Job 42:12 says “The Lord blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first.” I can’t wait to see what God has in store for me and my family, as I continue to trust Him and place my hope in Him, in spite of this year not being the “best”. I guess in terms of having something to hope for, it is the best after all…