We are entering a new year and leaving behind the old year. For me the old year was a year of countless blessings. It was also a year that had its share of trials. In March my Mom passed away. The last few months have also included a major back pain flare-up and many accompanying appointments. Further, there were a couple major family issues. Finally, this time of year is the anniversary of my husband's death seven years ago and a reminder of the disabling effects of his disease in the years before that.
Recently while I was reading one of my devotional books I was reminded that when plagued by an ongoing and persistent trial one should look at it a a rich teaching opportunity. God is trying to teach me and teach all of us many things through the trials and problems of life. What we can learn through these opportunities are only limited by our willingness to listen to the voice of God and be teachable. For me my recent back issues, which are slowly getting better, have reminded me how dependent I am on the the Lord.
This same devotional reminded me that I need to be thankful for all that God is accomplishing in my life through all the problems and trials. I need to actually thank Him for the trials and problems. That is often difficult to do in the midst of them, but in the measure I can do that it will both praise God and lift me up as well. In yet another devotional I read that same morning I read this, "Suffering calls us out of our shallowness into the dangerous and demanding but ultimately delightful depths of an intense life with God" (Nancy Guthrie from her book: The One Year Book of Hope)
Psalm 50:14 in the Old Testament of the Bible says, "Sacrifice thank offerings to God, fulfill your vows to the Most High. Another translation says, "Bring your thanks to God as a sacrifice." Sometimes praise and thanks seems almost impossible in the midst of a trial, but a sacrifice of praise in spite of our feelings can bring huge blessings. God says to us in Psalm 50:23, "He who sacrifices thank offerings honors Me, and he prepares the way so that I may show him the salvation of God."
This new year will present us with new challenges and blessings. Some will be pleasant. Some may be very difficult. Some of you will enter the new year with the ongoing challenges of family care-giving. Some will also have other challenges. Trust the Lord through it all. Seek the Lord and rest in Him through it all. Even seek to bring the Lord a sacrifice of praise through it all.