When I look back at 2017, our family sure had its share of difficult days, weeks, and months. On paper, 2017 dealt us several harder blows than 2016. That is why, when I think back to 2017, I am amazed—because, for me, it was a much better year.
In 2016, I was a rebel fighter. I fought change. I fought schedule conflicts. I fought my little circle being turned inside out. I clung desperately to the way things had been and blamed people for changing everything that I was comfortable with.
Then 2017 came along. Our family faced far more changes (in 2017 alone, our family singing group changed its main singers and repertoire three times completely—that usually happens about once every four years). We faced a magnitude of heartache and trials like never before. But somewhere in between ‘16 and ‘17, the fight left me. The God Who continually works in me (Psalm 138:8, Philippians 1:6) didn’t give up on the “me” of 2016. Instead, He was patient. He never stopped speaking to me from His Word. He never stopped giving me “just the sermon I needed to hear.” He never took away godly family and friends who prayed for and counseled me. Over and over again, He would point me in the direction I should walk. He extended to me grace like I refused to extend to those around me. Oh yes, there were days in 2017 when I audibly declared, “I give up! I just give up!” The pressure was too hard. The change was too close. The hurt was too real. But you know what? No matter what God allowed our way, He held me close. He gave me the comfort I needed. He convicted me where I needed to be convicted. And He has used it all to continually mold, shape, grow, and mature me.
So when I examine my life, the biggest difference I see from 2016 and 2017 is me. In 2016 I was on the verge of being bitter, crushed, and critical. God’s grace opened my eyes to that and helped me to forgive, heal, refocus, and surrender.
I’m not saying all of this to at all exalt myself, but to exalt my Savior. My family can testify that there were many days this year where my attitude was pathetic, my focus awry, and my time mismanaged. But at the end of the year, the Lord and Savior I serve brought me through another year of ups and downs. Yes, we go through hard days. Yes, life is difficult. Yes, some years are more trying than others. Our God never changes. And, if we will let Him, He will use the merciless storms of life to show us a broader measure of His grace and mercy.