So, we are about one month into the new year. 2022 began a few weeks ago with many of us wishing each other a happy new year. At this time of year, we typically wish one another good fortune, blessings, and good health. We extend good wishes to everyone as a new year dawns. But, as I was praying in the new year, an unusual concept came to my heart and mind. It was as if the Holy Spirit was saying to me that we should also wish one another some misfortune in the new year.
Really? As an optimistic and positive person, I initially resisted the thought as a lapse of good judgment. But as the idea continued to haunt my thoughts, I began to process it and came to some conclusions. I would like to share those conclusions with you. But first, let’s hear from God’s Word:
James 1:2-4, “My fellow believers, when it seems as though you are facing nothing but difficulties, see it as an invaluable opportunity to experience the greatest joy that you can! For you know that when your faith is tested it stirs up in you the power of endurance. And then as your endurance grows even stronger, it will release perfection into every part of your being until there is nothing missing and nothing lacking.” (TPT)
Romans 5:3-5, “…Even in times of trouble we have a joyful confidence, knowing that our pressures will develop in us patient endurance. And patient endurance will refine our character, and proven character leads us back to hope. And this hope is not a disappointing fantasy, because we can now experience the endless love of God cascading into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who lives in us!” (TPT)
I will not wish you a happy new year in this blog, because you’ve probably heard that plenty of times already. Here are my wishes and prayers for you in 2022. From time to time, I wish you some misfortune, and I pray that you don’t miss the message in the misfortune.
I hope that you will be treated unfairly a little in 2022, so that you can discover the value of justice. Nothing sensitizes us to the plight of those who are experiencing injustice as when we experience it ourselves. In 2 Corinthians 1:4, the apostle Paul tells us that, “He [God] always comes alongside us to comfort us in every suffering so that we can come alongside those who are in any painful trial. We can bring them this same comfort that God has poured out upon us.” Yes, I hope you experience a little injustice in 2022.
I hope that you will experience some betrayal in 2022, because that will teach you the importance of loyalty. For me, few things sting more than knowing that someone whom I have put my trust in has betrayed that trust, and me. I tend to be a very trusting person, and that has opened the door to some pain over the years. King David of the Old Testament was a man after God’s own heart (I Samuel 13:14). He was also an incredible friend and humble leader. His friendship with Jonathan, King Saul’s son, is a stellar model for all friendships. I think that one of the things that taught him how to be a great friend and a humble leader was the experiences of betrayal that riddled his amazing life. Hear his cry and feel his pain as he speaks in Psalm 41:9, “Even my ally, my friend, has turned against me. He was one I totally trusted with my life, sharing supper with him, and now he shows me nothing but betrayal and treachery. He has sold me as an enemy.” Times like those can make one bitter or better. Obviously, David chose the path to better. Betrayal taught him the importance of loyalty. I pray that it has the same effect on your life in 2022.
Sorry to say, but I hope you experience a little loneliness from time to time in 2022, so that you don’t take family and friends for granted. Loneliness can be a good thing when it energizes you to reach out and connect with people. Loneliness can become your best friend if you allow it to drive you into the arms of your loving, heavenly Father. You can become, like Abraham, a friend of God (James 2:23). In many respects, loneliness is a choice. Therefore, choose to not take your family and friends for granted. Engage them. Bond with them. Make them a priority. I wish you some loneliness in 2022.
I hope you’ll be ignored or overlooked from time to time in 2022, so that you know the importance of listening to and noticing others. Nobody likes the feeling of being invisible. My bride Nancy and I tend to gravitate towards the people who are standing alone in the lobby at Lifeway. We often see their faces light up as they suddenly realize, “I am not invisible after all. Someone sees me.” We learned that “skill” from the many times we have felt ignored and overlooked in our own lives over the years. We know what it feels like, and we also know what makes that feeling go away. I wish you some moments of feeling invisible in 2022.
I hope you will have just enough pain in 2022 to learn compassion and develop empathy. It has been painful for me to bury every member of my immediate family of origin. I have said goodbye to both sets of grandparents, both parents, and my two siblings. As the oldest of three, it feels strange and somewhat painful to be the last man standing. I’ve experienced the sting of losing countless friends and church members over the years. Still, there’s a part of me that realizes that my loss equips me to be more compassionate and empathetic towards others who have or are experiencing loss. There’s a lot of loss going around lately, isn’t there? Whether it’s the pain of losing a loved one, a job, financial reversal, or a child who has gone off the deep end, all of these experiences can make us more sensitive and effective while engaging others who are in a crisis. I wish you some pain in 2022.
Two of the truths that sustain me the most during my darkest hours are these:
- Nothing touches my life that does not first pass through the hands of my loving, heavenly Father. Nothing.
- Everything that I experience in life can prepare and equip me to be a more effective servant for Him and others. Everything.
Whether I wish these things for you or not, they are more than likely going to happen to you in 2022. And whether you benefit from them or not will depend upon your ability to see the messages in your misfortunes.