As we begin a new year, we experience sudden changes of joy combined with disappointment. These unexpected changes might help us stay focused on keeping good habits that lead to self-development and spiritual growth. God has provided for us and has promised to give us what we need in 2011. Perhaps we need to step out of our comfort zone and try something new in our life. I know it is easy to feel like everything is OK and you are moving forward, leaving the old things behind and making progress. God is calling on us to receive what he has for us, and encourage others to accept it with an open heart. However, life can be overwhelming, yes?
Sometimes God needs us to grow in areas of our faith that do not feel good at first but in the long run will cause us to be a better person both personally and spiritually. David in Psalms 34:18-19 says, “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, and saves such as have a contrite spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.”
You might have heard the statement, “I am blessed, and God is good all the time.” But, perhaps you are dealing with the unexpected loss of a loved one or long-term health troubles that seem difficult to accept. Has some unforeseen turn of events either financially or in the matter of a close relationship brought circumstances to your door that weigh heavily in the daily course of your life? Isaiah offers some good advice when he says, “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.”
Below are six blessed promises our Lord will give to us that can encourage us and others around us as we live in a world that is littered with hopelessness and despair. The blessings of God are within reach in 2011. May they come true as you face the new year and challenges that await you. With God, all things are possible.
1. Peace I give to you — Whatever challenges you might be facing; there is reason to have hope. In the insecurity of the moment there is one who brings love, joy, and peace. Your time of tribulation and testing will become bearable; rest assured there is a promise of hope for everyone who "...trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is." Jeremiah 17:7. "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." Philippians 4:7.
2. Calm from a storm I give to you — In every human crisis, there is that moment when an individual comes to the point of realization that worldly knowledge and capacity to cure or remedy a particular situation have limitations. This matter of truth might overtake a person as raging waves of despair where the heart grieves in a shadow of distress. However, even in a tempest of the most severe personal crisis, God will calm the storm and offer a place of refuge and strength. "He maketh the storm calm, so that the waves thereof are still." Psalm 107:29. Christ defeated every storm of life when he died on the cross, rose from the dead, and promised to return to claim what is rightfully his.
3. Access to the son I give to you — Although you might not understand the reason for your time of struggle it is important to comprehend that God has provided a way of access to his peace, through Jesus Christ, his only begotten son. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believeth on Him is not condemned: but He that believeth not is condemned already, because He hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." John 3:16-18. God is the creator of those we love, the governor of our resources, and the preserver of all things. Through him we gain access to the son and to all of his blessings.
4. Compassion I give to you — Jesus Christ is the compassionate and good shepherd that gives eternal life and ministers to the sheep of God’s pasture. "And Jesus, when he came out, saw much people, and was moved with compassion toward them, because they were as sheep not having a shepherd: and he began to teach them many things." Mark 6:34. God does not comfort us to make us comfortable, but to make us comforters.
5. Healing I give to you — If your time of hurting has been unbearable, now is the time to let Jesus Christ begin the healing process. "Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away." James 4:14. As Jesus healed the blind man, and restored his sight, surely he will heal the wounded heart of a loved one.
6. My word I give to you — You can know the way of salvation through God’s word, the Bible, which can be trusted in all matters concerning salvation. "But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be untreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy." James 3:17. What you keep to yourself you will lose; what you give away you will keep forever. So share God’s word with all you meet and they will keep it forever.
May the Lord bless and keep you this year. You see, all the promises of God are true, and He has many blessings just for you. My dad said to me many times, “You can always depend on God for the blessing you need. You may not see right off, but never lose hope; God is always in the blessing business.” So, I say to you, life might be dishing you an unpleasant meal, but the tasteful blessings of the master are just around the corner and will be there to help you through tough times. Be sure you remember to thank God for the blessings you have already received.
Major K. Kendall Mathews is the regional coordinator for the Salvation Army.