Looking back on 2016, there is one significant week I wanted to talk about here.
My maternal grandfather got very sick and was hospitalized in May 2016. Memorial Day weekend I went home to go see him. I spent 3 days by his side spending time with him. When I went home that Monday I knew the terrible news that his time was short and he would not recover from this. I went into work the following Tuesday carrying my heavy broken heart and I received the news that I had been laid off from my job. Just 2 days later my grandfather passed.
I contribute to the bible study Kevin Young of Disciple leads on their official website, and we happen to be in the book of Philippians at that time. As I drove home after being laid off in the midst of heart ache, Kevin Young posted the next chapter for us to study. That chapter was Philippians 4. So I got home and opened the chapter and found this:
“4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” Phil 4:4-5 NIV
I was angry that God picked this chapter for this week because rejoicing was not what I had in mind at the moment. However, I could not lie when I wrote my thoughts on the chapter. I had to write the truth, and the truth was something I didn’t want to deal with. The truth was that I could still rejoice even though I felt nothing but heartache.
You see, happiness and joy are completely different things. Happiness is dependent on circumstances. Happiness is fleeting and temporary. Happiness does not last, and it does not endure. However, joy is dependent on our hope found in Jesus. Jesus sacrificed himself to save us from our sins so we can be in heaven with our father forever one day. And because our joy is found in the eternal promises from God, joy is always there. Joy is powerful and enduring despite what we are feeling. You will always have joy. Even in the midst of unbearable pain and hurt, you will always have joy.
I could not deny it; I still had joy.
“11 I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Phil 4:11-13
This honestly offended me that day. I was worried about money and God was putting this verse in front of me. These verses are about being content no matter what, even when you don’t get what you want or your dreams don’t come true. It’s about being faithful to God and content with what God has given you whether that is a lot or just a little. It’s all a gift because none of it is something we have earned. In the end you can have the whole world and all the pleasures it has to offer and have nothing because you don’t have God. You could also have not a penny to your name and have God, and you would have everything. So whatever God has given to you, be it much or a little, whether your dreams come true or lay broken before you, all of this you can endure standing strong with the strength to persevere through the impossible that only comes from God.
I could not deny it; contentment could be found even in those darkest of days.
“19 And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. 20 To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.” Phil 4:19-20 NIV
Another thing I learned is how much mercy and love God can lavish on us in those hard times. During that week there were several times God lavished huge amounts of mercy on me, and that is the only thing that got me through that week.
Time is something only we depend on here in this world. God is timeless so time doesn’t matter to him. God can do whatever he wants not dependent on it or limited by anything. As mere humans we are chained to time and held hostage by it as it drags on, and we are powerless to stop it.
So one of the most amazing gifts God can give you, that only he can, is time. And time is something God mercifully and lovingly gave me that Memorial Day weekend. Those precious 3 days spent with my grandfather before he passed was a gift from God far more precious that anything on earth.
I could not deny it; God lavished me with mercy and met all my needs even as I felt like everything was being taken away from me.
So 2016 didn’t go as I thought it would. I didn’t plan on losing my job and being unemployed half the year. I didn’t plan on losing my grandfather. I also would have never guessed I would end 2016 at a new job and writing for JesusWired. It was a crazy year for sure. Bring on 2017. Let’s keep going and keep fighting.