Friday, December 30, 2016

2016: Worst Year Ever!?

Whew, what a year. While we can probably say that about any year, this one was one for the books. Of course I am specifically thinking about the unsavory presidential campaign that commandeered the headlines all year, but that's not all. The economy has continued to struggle—for the eighth straight year. It seems culture continues to lurch toward negativity and licentiousness. Many notable people died. Racial tension seemed to creep near to a boiling point. International tragedies and natural disasters were not uncommon: Isis, Syria, refugees, terrorism attempts (and incidents), severe drought and fires, Zika...I could go on.
But was it that much worse than other years? I'm old enough now to remember many bad years that contained terrible events and trying times. My grandparents told me of the Great Depression and the years of World War II. Those seem much worse by comparison! As I think about it, I'd trade 2016 for many others in memory. In fact, 2016 was quite good for me in many ways! Health-wise, financially (despite giving more than ever and having two kids in college), family life, experiences, good movies and sports events, lessons learned, relationships with others, spiritual growth, progress regarding our church's mission...there are so many ways 2016 was quite good!
Let me take our church's mission for example. This time last year we were over 1.7 million dollars in debt (which has been an albatross hanging around our collective necks). We don't have the final tally, but in our year of "decrease to increase" (d2i) we have paid more than 1 million dollars toward that debt ALL WHILE giving 100% of what was needed for our budget! Pretty great. Meanwhile, two of our church plants became official, independent churches during 2016! What's more, some of the churches we planted in previous years planted churches this year! That's cool!
So, we should be careful about joining the chorus of negativity. Remember, celebrities (and others) will die every year, disasters will happen, there will be wars and rumors of wars, there will be other election years. I think we would be wise to focus on victories rather than losses, feel determined rather than defeated! God is still in charge! In this I take much comfort!

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