My husband and I started 2018 hopeful and full of high expectations. This was going to be “the year.” We had a clear picture in our minds of the specific things we wanted to see, and we had no doubt that God was going to do it. Fast forward to December 2018, and a completely different picture has played out. I look back and my heart is very thankful for every single experience in 2018. I cannot begin to sum up 2018 in words. It has been intense in every way possible. I have cried so deeply that my heart ached so many times and I have also laughed so intensely that my heart has swelled with happiness. They have been days, not a few, where my faith has been shaken, where I have been overwhelmed by the burdens we have carried. But even in those moments, I have felt God’s embrace as He has nudged me on. I have experienced unexplainable joy even though it seemed like my boat was sinking.
I would never forget the day, I got on a train and the tears I had been bottling up fell freely from my eyes and right there and then God whispered:
“Don’t worry, child. You’re not alone.”
In 2018, we have had to trust God for provision like never before. You know when you have run out of options and asked everyone you know for help and don’t know who else to turn to; when it feels like all hell is breaking loose and heaven is silent … silent to your petitions, cries and sacrifices. Countless times it felt like we had reached the end. We have been stranded with no money for fuel or transportation, almost homeless, almost hungry, and almost naked, but right when we think this is it, God has shown up and provided just what we needed to get to the next junction. He shows us like, “Hey! I am still here. I’m still faithful. Just go through the process. Just go through it …”
In 2018, we experienced grace; grace that has enabled us whether the storm with a smile on our faces and with joy in our hearts even amid mockery and apparent shame. We learnt the true meaning of contentment. We had each other and what we had was enough. We learnt to stop, dance and make a fuss over the manna that fell from heaven for us.
In 2018, we learnt the true power of unity. We stopped fighting each other and begun to fight together. We enjoyed so much sweetness in our home despite the trouble that brewed outside. We knew that regardless of the turn of the tide, it was us against the world. God’s grace was so evident, and we are truly thankful for the ability to dance in the rain and laugh in the furnace. We are thankful for the strength to wipe each other’s tears and spur one another towards love and good deeds. We were never without help. God placed human angels in our midst as constant reminders that even in our silent season we were not alone.
In 2018, we saw acquaintances and friends become family. We saw people we thought were family become strangers. We are thankful for the many times we needed help and help was on the way.
I learnt in 2018, that there are not many encouragers around for so many people are consumed by their own burdens, so they fail to notice when someone else is slipping away and sinking in despair and discouragement. I remember the day someone asked me how I was, and I opened up to them, I was met with an uncomfortably awkward stare (Lol!) I bet she wished she never asked, so I made it my mission to write often 2018 and give the gift of encouragement to someone else and I am thankful for the grace to reach and encourage you through my blogs.
One of the greatest lessons I learnt in 2018 was on perspective. Looking at my experiences through God’s eyes and not through man’s eyes. Looking at how far I have come and not how much further I have to go. Looking at my blessings and being grateful and not my unanswered prayers. You see, don’t make the mistake of looking at my midnight season and laughing because dawn is just about to break. Don’t look at my struggles and make conclusions because God is stretching me; building stamina and capacity. He is grooming me for more that is to come.
2018 has been our best year yet because God has been on our side even though it felt like He had been silent. I am so thankful that God can trust us with trouble, that God can pass us through fire because real gold is not afraid of the test of fire, that regardless of how tough this year has been, the growth we have experienced as a couple and as individuals has been astounding. Real character is revealed in the face of adversity and I am grateful for grace not to fall when the pressure felt too much.
If you have felt that your 2018 was such a bad, tough, difficult year, please look again. Maybe you feel like you are ending 2018 worse than how you started it, or you feel simply stuck with no progress made, look again. Maybe you are still broke, single, childless or in debt, look again. This time around, look through God’s eyes, not yours. Change your perspective. He just might have been preparing you, stretching you and grooming you for what is to come. He was building character in you and polishing you, so you can shine like real gold. Can you dare to truly thank him for the year you have had?
Father, we say thank you for 2018. We trust you and we know that all things are working together for our good. Receive our praise and thanksgiving for how amazing the year 2018 has been in Jesus’ mighty name. Amen.
Philippians 4:12 (NIV)
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.
James 1; 2-3 (NIV)
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
2 Corinthians 4:8-9 The Passion Translation (TPT)
8 Though we experience every kind of pressure, we’re not crushed. At times we don’t know what to do, but quitting is not an option.
[a] 9 We are persecuted by others, but God has not forsaken us. We may be knocked down, but not out.