Every year around Christmas I try to stop and begin thanking God for the blessings He has brought into my life over the last twelve months. Usually this will be things like spiritual growth, ministry opportunities, friends and family, and answers to prayer. Last week while thinking about all the blessings I experienced during 2011 the Lord began bringing experiences to my mind that would definitely not be viewed as a blessing.
These were lessons that I learned the hard way which meant experiencing pain, loneliness, discouragement, and frustration among other things so few people could blame me for not adding them to the blessing list. But these painful lessons belong there because they reveal our own weakness and draw us closer to the Lord. Its true I would prefer a less excruciating form of learning these experiences do bring Glory to God.
We all go through frustrating or discouraging situations in life so its easy to become bitter and question the goodness of God. But if we take that attitude it blinds us to the truth that the Lord was trying to teach us through that trial or tests. Thats why its necessary to revisit some of those struggles and review the lessons they taught us, because then we can look past the tears of that moment and see the Loving hands of God in that situation. I have listed a few of these hard lessons below and would encourage everyone to record some of their own on paper, a computer, or even as a comment in this post.
I am sure there are many lessons for me to learn the hard way in 2012 but I thank God for those challenges in advance, knowing that they draw me closer to Him.
1. Plan for the Future: When the US dollar began dropping its strength in late 2010 instead of setting aside money for the future I believed it would just bounce back again. While things are currently at parity for the majority of 2011 I lost seven cents on the dollar
What this teaches me about life: If I feel the Lord leading me to do something and don’t do it there will be consequences
What I will do differently: A budget for 2012 has already been created that plans to lose seven cents on the dollar
2. God Moves Slowly: After attempts to get involved in ESL (English as a Second Language) and Religious Education classes in early 2011 fell through I became frustrated and questioned if it was God’s Will, only to have him open the door for me to teach two RE classes and one ESL student each week two months ago
What this teaches me about life: Don’t get frustrated and quit if things don’t work out the first time you attempt them, the Lord is working out His plan, and His timing is very different than mine
What I will do differently: Seek the Lord’s direction when things don’t go well
3. Take Small Steps: When I wasn’t able to mentor in the school system (which the Lord called me to do) God led me to instead become involved in smaller opportunities such as homework clubs, and volunteer teachers aid for one hour each week
What this teaches me about life: Don’t look for one way to pursue your dreams in spectacular fashion since the Lord doesn’t usually work that way, instead take small steps of faith and allow Him to open doors.
What I will do differently: Creating a two year plan before trying to become a mentor again, including raising more financial support and getting background in education.
4. Have a Plan: In many ways I was unprepared for 2011 because although the Lords calling upon my life was clear I hadn’t given much thought as to how I would accomplish those things, or how to deal with the challenges Satan would throw at me.
What this teaches me about life: You can have a great vision for the next year but if there isn’t a plan that can be followed, or Biblical Responses to the attacks of Satan then you will not succeed
What I will do differently: Focus my energies on Gods calling for my life in 2012 (to reach youth) and create a series of steps to do it