"I know that my redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand on the earth." Job 19:25 "Throw me overboard, then the sea will become calm. I know I am responsible for the violent storm." Jonah 1:12 "But, if it seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But, as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.
As we look to 2021, anxiously anticipating waving 2020 goodbye, it makes sense that we assess what we should take with us into 2021. You see, as much as we would like to shake the past off and move on, some of it clings to us as we go forward. Therefore, we need to be fully aware and purposeful in leaving behind those things that do not promote growth (in mind, body, and spirit). You have heard time and time again that only the valuable lessons learned from the past are to be saved for future reference. The question is, "What lesson/s did we learn?"
Personally, I have had to steel myself in order to take only those lessons that are valid for me. Unfortunately, I have dwelled too long in certain places and spaces so that I may have missed the goal of certain lessons. In essence, by lingering I took too much time thinking and rethinking and ultimately not trusting the outcome. I do go on. What I mean (what I am trying to say) is if you are not certain that you have notably gained a life lesson in 2020, leave the so-so lesson behind and anything else that might be a hindrance. I am confident that there are many more lessons to learn in 2021.
The year 2020 was wrought (I know I am speaking of it as though we are in 2021; forgive me), with much to despair about. We (society) found ourselves in the grips of a deadly Pandemic; seemingly changing our way of life overnight and for an extended period of time. As if that was not oppressive enough, we kept getting mixed messages, misinformation and disinformation from our leaders and just about anyone who wanted to chime in as to how to get out of this dire situation. Mind you, our daily life issues continued to occur. As far as I know, diabetes, hypertension, arthritis, bills, aches, pains, etc., etc., took no holiday. They kind of blended in with our current state of affairs, making the burden of what we were experiencing even heavier. I am not trying to be a "Debbie Downer." It's "just the facts." (Remember "Dragnet" - for those of us old enough to remember). The truth is many of us have found ourselves in a dark place and dreading moving in any direction. This is hard. But, alas, it is not new.
In scripture, the prophet Elijah found himself in such a place. I have mentioned this before. Sometimes it is good to go back, study and reflect that others have faced despair and lived to tell the story and even prospered in some instances. Elijah found himself between a rock and a hard place. Jezebel had sworn to kill him, and she was so serious that she wished harm to herself if she did not carry out the threat. Elijah being tired and hungry just caved in; it was all too much for him. Being on the run was more than he could handle at the moment, especially understanding that Jezebel would stop at nothing until she completed the dastardly task. He threw up his hands and asked God to take his life and get it over with. Stop. Yes, rather than continue in this state, he asked God to kill him. It is clear that he was in a "storm." Read 1 Kings 19, to learn the outcome. You will be inspired, encouraged, and your mind will be refreshed as you are reminded of who God is and how He takes care of us in every situation; even in those times when we have given up.
It is said that we are either entering a storm, in a storm or exiting a storm. Let's look at Joshua. Coming off the heals of a rebellion (the Israelites fell into sin waiting for Moses to get back from Mount Sinai), Joshua knew that this was just the beginning. There were more storms brewing. He decided to set the tone before they went any further. He gave them a choice; no pressure. They had faced hard times before; four hundred years of bondage was not that far in their past. It was no secret that God had miraculously delivered them. He reminded them of their history. Their faith was now waning because they could only see what was around them. They believed that Moses had led them into the wilderness to die (when they, in their short-sightedness and ingratitude agued they could have died in Egypt where they had a variety of food to eat. Sounds ridiculous, but this was their logic). Joshua, by sharing his choice, he was reminding them that he still believed in the God who was responsible for their deliverance. It was up to them to choose Yahweh, the one true God, or false gods when facing the storms (that were surely coming) without the one true God. Joshua 24:15.
Depending on where we are with regard to a storm, it is a time to remember. Memory may not be as solid as it once was, but there are many ways to help recall. Write it, record it, post it, etc. I have been through several personal storms in my life. I can promise you that I have not always accepted that my "suffering" was altruistic or even purposeful. Sometimes I did not get why I found myself in such a state. I do recall that when things got better (exiting the storm), I was thankful, even prayerful. That being said, as soon as another storm was on the horizon, I did not instantly rejoice that the outcome would be fine. Rather, I examined the parameters of the storm and tried to plot my way out of it until I regrouped and remembered (hence the need to write things down) the One who has been with me and delivered me in every storm of my life.
As we leave 2020 behind us, know that we do not have to go it alone no matter what have faced or are facing. We can see from biblical times that human nature and human problems have not changed. Take courage in these examples; I know I have. When I consider Joseph, I am assured that when God has a purpose for your life, nothing or no one can thwart it. In fact, God can use setbacks to get you to where He wants you to be. Joseph's brothers sold him into slavery (an alternative to killing him). After becoming a faithful servant in Potiphar's house, Joseph was falsely accused by Potiphar's wife and thrown into prison. He thrived while in prison. He interpreted a dream that foretold about a fellow prisoner's release and success. That person (cupbearer) who promised to remember him when he came before the Pharaoh instantly forgot about Joseph. But, in God's time that ex-prisoner remembered Joseph when the Pharaoh needed a dream interpreted. The best was yet to come! Fast forward, Joseph became second in command to the Pharaoh, and his brothers had to come to him for their survival. You can read the full account in Genesis 37-50. The lesson for us here is that sometimes God allows us to go through some rough things so that when He elevates us, we are ready for the promotion. Be faithful in the storm.
Like Job, we may never find out the reason we are going through such hard times. In the case of Job, he lost his health, all his wealth, his children and his reputation. He had no clue why, and let me tell you he was not a happy camper and he did complain. But, when told to "curse God and die," he knew that was not right. Even though it was his wife who told him to do this. He, regrouped and remembered that all that he had was because God had given it to him. "The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord." Job 1:21. In the final analysis, Job's faithfulness was rewarded. God blessed him with more than he had lost during the time of his storm. Trust in God's love and faithfulness.
The truth be told we cannot run away from a storm. (Ask Jonah - He boarded a ship to Tarshish to avoid doing what God asked him to do, and a violent storm came upon the ship. Finally, he told the crew members to throw him overboard to settle the storm. He knew he was the problem). If it were possible to run from the storms of life, we would all be living a life of ease and pleasure. Not. "Life happens when you are busy making plans." It is okay to make plans, but be prepared if they change without notice or permission. A storm may upset your plans. It is highly probable that you will at some point be in the eye of a storm. My advice to you is "do not stare it down." Instead look beyond it to the One who calms the winds and the waves."
My most recent storm (no details), was brewing (in full effect really), and I began to think that it was taking a long time to end. So I prayed harder and longer when a peace came over me that took the wind out of my sail. I remembered that this was not my first storm and that God's love for me has not shifted. His attributes have not changed. While I do not know the outcome, because of who God is and His love for me, it is going to be alright.
GOD IS: ALPHA AND OMEGA, OMNIPOTENT, OMNISCIENT, OMNIPRESENT, ETERNAL, FAITHFUL, LOVING, JUST, IMMUTABLE, SOVEREIGN. HE IS THE SAME YESTERDAY, TODAY AND FOREVER. I need say no more.
Wait on the Lord if you want God's best: Perhaps in 2020, there were a few things that you wanted to have received, changed or accomplished. You might have even prayed about it, sought it and almost achieved it, but somehow it fell short. Think about it and ask: "Am I willing to wait for God's best? Why or Why not?" I have learned that "what is worth having is worth waiting for." Especially, if you have asked God to be a part of the plan to attain that thing. I implore you to continue to pray and to wait patiently. If there is some preparation that you need to do, do it. God's timing is always perfect. He knows when you are ready to receive what you have asked for. Isaiah 40:31.
Trust God's heart when you cannot see his hand: Like the biblical character Job, there are (and will be) times when life gets real challenging and our relationship with God feels weak or non-existent. You may wonder, "Why me?" You may even be tempted to believe that you are being treated unfairly (by God. Can you believe it?) and to the extreme, you may even begin to doubt the existence of God. HALT right there! This is when you need to REMEMBER WHO GOD IS AND HAS BEEN IN YOUR LIFE. A loving parent my withhold a privilege from you for your own good, but their love for you has not changed. You get that. God loves you unconditionally; so you need to understand that no matter what you are going through, He can be trusted to be with you and to work all things out for your good. Don't give up. Look up! God is love (this is His nature). He loves you, and that will not change.
The best is yet to come!: What is the best? What are we measuring this against? I know that I always want the best. Several years ago I remodeled my kitchen and decided to buy the best appliances. My measurement of the best was cost. I purchased name brand, expensive appliances. Suffice it to say, that I will never buy a particular name brand again. It was the best in name only. The products did not hold up. I say this to say that we can be fooled into thinking we know what is best. Guess what? God knows what is best (He gave us His very best) and He wants the best for us. We may have to be patient; we may even have to face some trials, but we can be assured that God will give us what is best for our lives. Joseph's life is a testament to this. Believe and trust. Remain faithful.
In 2021, get your priorities in order. Put God first and everything else will follow. Matthew 6:33. Our world is in jeopardy because we think we know everything and believe we are self-sufficient. WE DON'T AND WE'RE NOT. We know a lot, but we need to remember from whence we came and from whom we have received this knowledge and our ability to survive and thrive. Let's not be too proud to go back and seek the never ending wisdom of the Master Teacher and loving Father. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path." Proverbs 3:5-6.
May God bless you and your family abundantly with all the love, joy, peace and prosperity in 2021 that your heart can hold and that you can and will share with others!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Thank you for your support throughout this year (2020). I am truly appreciative. Keep reading and watching; my new website YvetteLane.com is coming soon along with special feature, "ASK YVETTE."
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