by Mark Timm, CEO Ziglar Family
2016: Was it a year that you will look back on with warm memories, or a year that you’re more than ready to slam the door on and never look back?
For my family, and maybe for yours, it’s a little bit of both.
We’ve experienced some highs and some lows, some wins and some losses, some sunny days and some thunderstorms – even some tornadoes! (I do live in rural Indiana!)
When it feels like I’m on a long stretch of bumpy road, I make the effort to remember this verse from 1 Thessalonians 5:18, when the Apostle Paul writes, “In everything give thanks, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Notice how that doesn’t say, “In good times, give thanks”?
In everything give thanks. That’s quite a challenge, isn’t it?
It’s easy to have an attitude of gratitude when things are going our way, and the blessings are obvious and plentiful.
But what about when they’re not?
How often do we thank God for the troubles in our life? When do we pray, Thank you, Lord, for my troubles, my losses, my tears, my pains?
You’re probably thinking, “Um, never…and why would I?”
In her book Jesus Calling, Sarah Young gives us this food for thought:
“Do not resist or run from the difficulties in your life. These problems are not random mistakes; they are hand-tailored blessings designed for your benefit and growth. Embrace all the circumstances that I allow in your life, trusting Me to bring good out of them. View problems as opportunities to rely more fully on Me.”
What if you reflected on the past year and reframed your challenges as blessings, looking for ways that they helped you to grow in some way, or to lean more into your faith, family, and friends?
Can you find even a small part of a tough situation that today, looking back, you might acknowledge was somehow a blessing?
I’ll share a personal example. My wife and I were faced with some tough discipline issues with one of our sons this year. As many teens do, he made some choices that were fast leading him down a road that we could see was going nowhere good, and our attempts to help him course-correct were not successful. Not only were his choices affecting him, but they were putting a lot of stress on our entire family. It was definitely not a highlight of our year!
Fast forward to now, 6 months later. He has now graduated from the National Guard Hoosier Youth Challenge Academy, and we couldn’t be more proud of the way our son has turned things around! Yes, it was hard to have him gone for those months, but the blessing in that very tough situation is that he has had a chance to take a step back from his choices, course correct, and come out of it with increased confidence and self-discipline.
It might sound a little crazy to say it, but in hindsight, I am truly grateful for the difficulty of that situation knowing the blessing that has resulted from it.
Today, as we near the end of another year, I challenge you to look back on 2016 with fresh perspective.
Look for the blessings in the unexpected places: the job challenges, the frustration with a child, the unexpected home repairs, the conflicts with your spouse.
Then, give thanks for those challenges, and use what you’ve learned from them to springboard into the new year, ready to face whatever life throws at you with an attitude of gratitude.
“Of all the ‘attitudes’ we can acquire, surely the attitude of gratitude is the most important and by far the most life-changing.” —Zig Ziglar
Happy New Year!