As we move towards Christmas, and the conclusion of 2022, it is a good time to reflect on the past and look ahead to the future. Two years ago, you were likely saying, “I am SO glad 2020 is over.” Then, last year it was probably something like, “I am glad 2021 is over”. Now that 2022 is coming to a conclusion, how are you feeling?
My guess is that there may be similar feelings, because there is part of us that is still waiting (hoping) for things to get back to normal. The fact of the matter, however, is that things will never be quite the same as they were in 2019. Our world is different.
During the past week I have been, once again, reading the Christmas story, and reflecting upon the various characters who participated in that event. First, there was Joseph, a “righteous man” (Mt. 1:19a) who found out his fiancé was pregnant, and it was not by him! This, obviously, turned his world upside down, as he was planning to “break the engagement quietly.” (Mt 1:19b) Then, there was Mary, who was “confused and disturbed” (Luke 1:29) when the angel appeared to her, only to find out she would become pregnant, while still unmarried. Then, this young (pledged, but not yet married) couple traveled to Bethlehem, where Mary gave birth. Even though God had prepared them for their part in His plan, how do you suppose they explained it to everyone else?
As I reread that familiar story once again, I was reminded that their lives were turned completely upside down. I am guessing they had dreamed about and discussed what their future might look like, as a couple. But, NEVER, had they envisioned anything like this. Like our lives during the past 3 years, their world would never be the same.
I know what some of you are thinking… “This was different. God had this all planned out, and it was for good!” That is true! Hindsight is always better than foresight. Looking in the rearview mirror, we see how all the pieces came together on that first Christmas. God had a plan for Joseph. He had a plan for Mary. He even had a plan for those shepherds who were “sore afraid” (KJV) or “terrified” as the NIV renders it (Luke 2:9). Each person had their moments. Looking back, it’s ALL good now, because we know the rest of the story. But, when you are in the middle of one of those times when you don’t see the whole picture and life seems confusing, it messes with your mental and emotional equilibrium.
But how different was it really from today? Did God have a plan for Mary and Joseph? He sure did! Does God have a plan for you and me? He sure does! Romans 8:28 is just as true for you and me today as it was for Joseph and Mary back then.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Mary and Joseph were “called according to his purpose.” Aren’t we as well? If that is true, then we must also believe that just like God brought Mary and Joseph through the confusion and uncertainties of their circumstances, he can (and will) bring us through as well. It is what faith and hope are all about. They are about trusting God and believing something better is just around the corner. They are about believing that God’s got this! He is in control, and He has a plan.
No matter how 2022 has been for you, my prayer is that 2023 carries with it a renewed sense of hope and encouragement, knowing that God has a plan for you, and He will not let you down.
May you remember we are with you, and we are for you. But most importantly, so is God! He knows your past and present. And he knows your future as well! So, you can trust Him because he has a plan for your good!
Have a Merry Christmas!
Thayne, Tony, Stacey, Jesse, Janet, Kristina and Randy
Your EFC-MAYM Leadership Team