2016 has been a wild year, and like many people, I am ready to see it go! I have said in the past that by year’s end, the year just starts to feel like a shirt that needs to be changed. But this year… Well, this year the shirt is soaked in kerosene and is on fire… and full of angry yellow jackets… It just needs to go away.
I know we are supposed to have the patience and intelligence to look at the moments of life and see the beauty in them, savor the time, and drink deeply of the experience, but there are times that we just want to grab the spiritual equivalent of a pop-tart and a capri-sun and just run somewhere we can hide. This year has been one of those times.
We all have weathered a number of tragedies this year including deaths of friends, changes in finances, family changes, celebrity deaths, and probably the biggest trial of the year… an election. Yeah, that one is not completely going away in 2017 either. Sorry. Keep praying!
Through all of it, I have been really trying to keep that word that I chose last year to be my compass as I dealt with all of it – FOCUS. It has not always been easy, but it did the trick to pull me back a few times when I started to drift a bit and let the moment’s emotional charge take control of my thoughts and actions. It was not easy, and now that the end of the year has come, I look back at it and say that it was a good word. A timely word.
So, now it’s time for the word for 2017. I’ve been giving a lot of thought over the past few days as to what that word might be, and as the feelings of the past year have been going through my mind as well, there is one word that has come to mind:
Resilient: capable of withstanding shock without permanent deformation or rupture; tending to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change; able to recoil or spring back into shape after bending, stretching, or being compressed; able to withstand or recover quickly from difficult conditions.
There have been many times over the past 12 months that I have been left feeling battered, bruised, and beaten. The stresses and the demands of life, relationships, work, learning, and enduring have been tough! Sometimes I think I barely escaped with my sanity intact! (Some may argue that there was no way I would be able to hang on to that one!)
I had times when my temper got the better of me. Times when I shut down and didn’t want to engage because I just felt too drained. There were times when I know that my energy level was sapped not by physical activity, but by mental and emotional exhaustion. None of this is healthy, and it has taken me much of the year to figure out where some of it has come from. A lack of Resilience.
So, how do I get built up to be more Resilient? How do I make sure that at the end of the day I have more of me left than I have day? How do I make sure that I am able to provide what is needed to those I love or lead? How do I come back from the hurts and the pains that will inevitably hit me as the year goes by?
- Start with the source of Resilience. – I can do all things through Him who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:13 Just ask Him for the power to do things. He has more than enough!
- Stay humble – Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. – James 4:10 When you start thinking you can go it alone, you will quickly come face to face with how short your road will be.
- Keep the focus on Christ and His kingdom – Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. – Hebrews 12:2-3 As we look at Christ and His life, we see His ability to face challenges because His eye was on doing His Father’s work. He was working for the kingdom!
- No matter what happens, remember God is on your side – Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1:9 When God is on your side you will win the war! Just keep fighting!
- Pray for Resilience – Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7 Prayer is our best weapon when we are attacked and in pain. Crying out to God, sharing our struggle with Him and asking for His sustaining grace is key in bouncing back from a trial.
- Be content – I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. – Philippians 4:12 There are things that we need and things that we want. Look at how God always comes through with your needs and ask Him to help you find His heart with your wants.
- Keep moving forward – We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; 9persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; – 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 If we stop moving, we start dying. Have a Relentless attitude that will not settle for giving up.
- Give thanks in all situations – Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 No matter how bad things may seem, there is someone out there in a worse situation than you are. Thank God for the blessings you have here on earth, and for His promises beyond this life!
- Give God the glory – Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. – Habakuk 3:17-18 We do have a part in the outcomes in our lives, but we get where we are going through God’s strength and grace. We owe Him the glory!
- Remember that this is not the end – I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord! – Psalm 27:13 This verse has been my anchor since April 2010. God has shown repeatedly that I am on a journey, and I am so thankful I am with Him as I travel!
Trials? Yep. They’re gonna keep coming. Troubles? They will be there, and sometimes they will bring their friends Worry, Doubt, and Fear to the party. It’s gonna happen, but it’s not the end. We will see the goodness of God in the land of the living. God will not let us down, and He will provide the strength we need to bounce back when we are drawing on Him.
I want this to be another Relentless year of growth. I want to take the lessons I learned about being focused (even when I failed in them) and combine it with a Relentless intensity that takes the power God has promised to me in order to have that little extra something at the end of the day to make me a better husband, father, and friend. While it would be nice to somehow avoid the hard times, I don’t want them to keep me captive and in a funk.
At the end of the day I want to stand up and say that I am blessed by God to stand in His strength because I never trusted my own. I want that for you too!
So, how about it? What does the next year look like for you? what is your word? What is your focus for growth? Where do you see yourself as we approach 2018? There is a lot of time between now and then to get moving in the right direction! So, go get after it!
Would love to hear your thoughts and comments, and as always, I appreciate the shares and follows. Thanks for reading!