Last week I invited you to tell some stories of how God had been at work in your lives in 2017. Thank you for your responses; they are a gift to all of us. Some of our stories are printed below. While not attributed, some of the posts suggest their author more clearly than others. The point is not to guess who wrote what, but to listen to the ways God was at work in the lives of those who shared. I find these words encouraging and helpful, and pray that you will, too. You may not have had time to write your response, but as you read these, consider again, how was God at work in your life in the past year – and how is he your hope for years to come?
So, God at work in 2017:
When I think about God’s work in my life this past year, I have to start with my life before October of 2016. Being a Christian, church, family, home, work, faith were all going along “just fine.” Trusting in, depending on, hoping in, and giving up control to God were not concepts of Christianity that were new to me. My praise and worship life was, what I thought, steeped in them.
Then, in one instant as all control of my life was truly stripped from me, trust, dependence, hope and total submission of my life to God filled my being. They became more than concepts. God used my illness to show me what real dependence on Him is. It is submission to His will. Trusting that His ways are better than the ways that I had always tried to control.
When I lost total control, God said to me, “I, the Lord of all, am in control. Depend on Me. Trust Me. I love you. My ways are high and great. I will use them for your good.”
This wasn’t easy as I found that my ways and His were not always the same. I found that this conflict created nothing but frustration and fear. I knew that God did not want that for our relationship. So I begged for His strength to listen and obey. Each time, He showed me that He had gone before me. Submission, dependence and trust were for my good. There’s no fear and frustration in them. His ways are always higher and they are always greater.
It was then that the true meaning of Hope in Him became deeper and more alive than I had ever known. It’s eternal Hope. His higher and greater ways are for my good, not only on this earth, but for Eternity. Eternal good. An eternity where I will come upon the glory of God and there will be nothing except my praise and worship for Him. Giving eternal thanks for having me submit, depend, trust and love.
David said about him:
“‘I saw the Lord always before me.
Because he is at my right hand,
I will not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
my body also will rest in hope,
because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
you will not let your holy one see decay.
You have made known to me the paths of life;
you will fill me with joy in your presence.’
Joshua 1:9: “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.”
A life verse takes on new meaning for us in 2017.
- Beginning 2017 with unemployment in the home: trusting in God’s provision and promises to be with us.
- Rejoicing in God’s provision of a new job opportunity: trusting in God for His call to this new position.
- Diagnoses of cancer affecting TOO many friends: trusting in God not to be frightened – me, or them – while sharing God’s promises. Rejoicing in God’s healing hands and mourning when God calls one home.
- Called to the role of caregiver for a parent: trusting in God to be strong and courageous while learning new care-giving skills; learning to slow down and be in the moment for the affirmed.
- Shepherding friends in their faith: baby steps forward and trusting in God lest I be be dismayed with backslides.
- Walking alongside those grieving: God is with us, wherever we go.
- Moving with our church to a new denomination: leaving a legacy of sweet memories; eyes opened to reality of situation(s) today and heralding what God has in store for His tomorrows.
GOD AT WORK IN 2017
- The immediate response is a new granddaughter—not forgetting how amazing that is since she was in a hospital that could quickly treat her respiratory issues at birth and she is fine, otherwise there would have been at the very least complications.
- Our grandson—one hundred years ago he would not be here—medical advances etc. have made his life possible and he is not only living but thriving.
- However on a bigger scale God has been at work as He plans the details of circumstances and people who come into and out of our lives. The microcosm of God’s family at LPC is a place where people come together to encourage one another, to worship God through Sunday times as well as during educational opportunities, to provide mission visions as well as chances to interact with those who need physical and spiritual refreshment, and leadership from the Pastor and Session that seeks to keep God’s glory in the forefront of all the happens through prayer and Scripture infusion.
So, 2017 has been as all years one of ups and downs, but through it all God remains in control. The challenge is to continue to seek God and to grow in His grace and glory this coming year using all the precious resources He has given us. Thanks for asking.
During 2017 I saw God at work in small ways that add up to reaffirming my trust in him: calm in the face of frustration over delayed plans; opportunities to make some older folks feel cared for; bonding with grandchildren and teachable moments; hearing God’s Word in worship, bible studies, and at retreats along with teaching that helped strengthen my understanding of God’s message for me.
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
In 2017, I needed God just as Isaiah said I would. I was afraid, dismayed, weak, needed help and had to be lifted up on more days than I would like to remember. Yet, God was there. Even when I couldn’t feel His presence, He was there. As I neared the end of my chemo treatments, I had a lot of concerns that test results were showing that the cancer was going, but not yet gone. God gave me peace when I was afraid. He sent that peace in the form of LPC members who told me they were praying for me no matter what. I felt dismayed and weak. Being isolated and away from the job I loved was hard, and I was so very tired. God gave me strength to get up each day. Dismay was a constant struggle. Chemo does things to your thought process and there were many dark days. God was there, especially when I couldn’t feel His presence. He was there in the notes and emails from LPC encouraging me and giving me hope. My church family never gave up, so how could I? I needed help, and God was there through LPC friends bringing me soup, smiles, hugs and reassurance that all I needed would be provided. Once the chemo was over and life began to return to normal, God was there. He taught me to give thanks in all things, because He is there. Now, when I am afraid, feeling dismayed, and need help I know God will be there, because He always was and always will be.
2017 was probably not the “best of times,” nor was it the “worst of times.” Our national life reflected in politics and culture was discouraging. My personal life was marked by some tough passages at work, but also some wonderful signs of hope. My family is healthy and well. Our children are growing in their Christian faith. I am encouraged by our church’s move to the EPC, and what it represents. I am thankful that our pastor and elders have courage to lead in tough times. As 2017 unfolded, I was reassured to think “all God’s promises find their yes in Jesus Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:20).