My thoughts (Keith Phillips):
The older I get the more I like, and accept, the spiritual beauty of mystery, especially as it relates to God and to the future. When I was younger (sometimes even this past year), I could put God in a box. I know God; I love God; and since I trust and am willing to obey God, I have had God fairly well defined. I expected that since I did what God wanted me to do, more or less, God would provide for me and protect me. I could depend on God taking care of me and my future.
All of that is true, but… What God has, and I don’t, is the long view of the future, even of my future. I’ve come to realize keenly that the trials, troubles, pain, suffering, sacrifice (you know, all those sorts of words) are God’s way of taking care of me and my future. God is blessing me with opportunities to become stronger, to grow in Christ-likeness, not despite the hardship, but precisely because of the hardship. That’s a mystery.
When I was younger, I wanted to change the world. God knows the world could use some changing, but I realize now that just about the only thing I have the capacity to change is myself; and one of things changing in me is that understanding of the mystery that all things, all things, ALL THINGS are in God’s hands, are under God’s dominion, and are working together for our good.
God may desire different things from each of us in the coming year; but for me, there’s a desire simply “to testify to the Good News of God’s grace” (Acts 20:24b, NRSV). And what a mystery it is!
Thought for the day: God, grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference; living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will, so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen. (attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr)
We encourage you to include a time of prayer with this reading. If you need a place to get started, consider the guidelines on the How to Pray page.