For us, 2012 has been another challenging year. Sometimes, it seemed the downs were much lower than the highs of the ups. From loss of loved ones to severed ties with once close family, we've definitely been challenged.
But like He did when Amanda was killed, still definitely the toughest challenge we've ever faced, Jesus Christ remains the rock to which we cling when buffeted by the winds that Satan hopes will dislodge our faith. The hope of His promise gives us a reason to keep going, a reason to keep putting one foot in front of the other, regardless what tragedies and obstacles life throws our way.
" 1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart." -- Hebrews 12:1-3
Though there are times I've felt like giving up, Jesus always shows me a reason to keep going. Almost always, it's that great cloud of witnesses mentioned in the verse above. There are always people watching, watching every single one of us. These folks have hard times too, and many feel like giving up at any given point in time.
Part of our purpose here on earth is to give these ladies and gentleman a reason not to quit, a reason to keep going, a reason to put one foot in front of the other, even when the race seems pointless. Many of these witnesses don't know Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. They haven't accepted the gift of salvation, of eternal life. Some don't even believe in Jesus and others don't know what to believe.
Through studying scripture and much prayer, I've come to realize that how we react to the tough situations in which we find ourselves, can bring people closer to Christ, or not.
It's really simple. If we persevere, make the right choices, and keep marching forward, even in the face of the most difficult trials, those watching will want what we have. They'll want to know what keeps us going and they'll want us to share it with them. That great cloud of witnesses will want Jesus because they see what He does for us!
We've got to keep running, even when the race seems impossible. And the only way we can, is by fixing our eyes on Jesus, letting Him be our pacer, letting Him lead the way. If we keep our eyes on Him, and live our life for Him, Jesus will get us through the roughest seas, over the steepest hills, and through the most severe storms.
I don't know if 2013 is going to be any easier by earthly standards, but I do know that Jesus will be there beside us for whatever struggles we face.
"For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all." -- 2 Corinthians 4:17
The apostle Paul called the troubles of this life "light and momentary." He called them that and he was imprisoned, beaten, stoned, and tortured. "Light and momentary."
What he means is, compared to life after this, these trials that make us want to throw in the towel will seem no more harmful than a mosquito bite does today. If you've accepted Jesus Christ as your personal savior, if you believe in your heart and confess with your mouth that He is the Son of God, born of a virgin, was crucified and buried, then rose from the dead and now sits at the right hand of the Father, the afflictions of this life will be overwhelmed by the pure joy and glory of life in Heaven.
If you don't accept God's gift of salvation through His Son, Jesus Christ, the trouble you face in this life will pale in comparison to the absolute misery and suffering you'll experience for eternity in Hell. The worst experience on earth will seem pleasant beside the easiest day you'll spend in Satan's lair.
"For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." -- Ephesians 2:10
Every single one of us was created by God, in His image, to do His will. Whether you believe or not, whether you accept His gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, you were created to do just that. God created you with the plan that you would know and love His Son, accept Him as your Savior, and do His will.
He has a plan for your life, a good, pleasing, and perfect plan that will be far better than anything you can come up with on your own. If you don't know Christ as your Savior, make 2013 the year you accept Him. Live your life for Him and see what great things He can accomplish through you!
May you and your family be truly blessed in 2013!
If you don't know Jesus as your personal savior, if you're missing the faith, hope, and love written about here, if you want the peace that we as Christians have in our lives, please visit our Got Jesus? page for step-by-step instructions on how to accept Jesus Christ as your personal Savior.