Processing Last Year, Projecting Next Year

Everyone’s on the mode of looking back on 2016 and looking ahead to 2017. The way we look back on the past year determines how we look ahead to the next. This practice can be helpful if it builds our faith for the future. But it can be bad if it makes us fearful.

At a simple get-together before Christmas, I asked our campus team in Katipunan a question that brought unexpected reflection. The question was,

“How would you compare your expectations at the start of the year with how it actually turned out?”

We quickly realized this question would take a while for each person to answer. There were people who experienced relocation, reassignments, accidents, sicknesses, deaths in the family, financial challenges, and love life developments. Some of the team even got teary-eyed as they recounted their past year. We took the time to let each team member have their turn.

Our experiences were diverse, but there were common elements to them. There were three thoughts I took away from the conversation that apply to all of us.

  1. There was no way we could have predicted all of 2016. We can try to plot trends, but that won’t be enough. Personally, I couldn’t have predicted I’d get shingles while my wife was going through a miscarriage. We didn’t expect that moving into our new house would be delayed by more than six months. So much of 2016 was unexpected.
  2. God was faithful through it all. He never gave us more than we could bear. When life seemed impossible, relief and support would come from somewhere else. In fact, many of the setbacks turned out for good. The shingles took me out of work, canceled all my appointments, making me available to comfort my wife during the miscarriage. The delay in moving into our new house gave us valuable time with my parents and grandparents. God really makes all things work together for the good of those who love Him.
  3. Because God is faithful, we don’t need to fear 2017. A number of us on the team expressed some concern or fear about 2017 with all the uncertainty in the world right now. But remembering what God did gives us hope. Next year will definitely have surprises of its own, but God will bring us through them. So we don’t need to fear.

What about you? How would you answer the question?

“How would you compare your expectations at the start of the year with how it actually turned out?”

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