What a Difference a Year Makes!

I celebrated my thirty-first birthday this past Sunday. If you know me, then you know that I do not like to make a big deal about my birthday. I don’t want a big party or any kind of extravaganza. Mostly, I just want to spend the day with loved ones. That is exactly what I did this year.

I remember well how I felt a year ago when I was forced to no longer be in my twenties. It was a sense of dread. There was something about turning thirty that felt ominous. I believe that your twenties are perhaps the most formative decade of your life. You go from being a kid to an adult. While I understood that thirty wasn’t old, I didn’t love that my twenties were now in my rear-view mirror. 

On top of that, there was other stuff in the world and in my life that led to how I felt. We were in the midst of the pandemic, and the world was still mostly shut down. Even the things that we were allowed to do were dulled with masks and social distancing. At that point, it was obvious that things were not getting better on that front. Church wasn’t the same. Sports weren’t the same. Life wasn’t the same. Even if I wanted to have a big gathering for my birthday, it wouldn’t have been wise. I also had a lot going on in my personal life that marred how I felt. I was newly divorced (although the news wasn’t public yet), and I had just gotten turned down for a job I thought that I was going to get. Things were not looking up for me. 

As I spent that day alone in my deeply empty house, I could not have envisioned what God had in store for me. As my birthday was approaching this year, I could not help but be overwhelmed with a sense of gratitude towards God for all that he has done for me over the last year. I am currently engaged to the most wonderful and beautiful woman I have ever met, and we will be married in less than four months from now. I have signed a book deal for my first book— which will be released soon. I decided to get this site running again, and it is constantly growing.  I love my job and the direction that God is taking it. Overall, I can look at everything in my life and be thankful for what God has done and is doing. Because of his great love for me, he has taken me from hopeless to hope-filled over the course of a year. 

Let me let you in on a little secret, I am not uniquely loved by God. He has the same affection for all his children. Psalm 40: 1-3 says,

I waited patiently for God to help me; then he listened and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out from the bog and the mire, and set my feet on a hard, firm path, and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, of praises to our God. Now many will hear of the glorious things he did for me, and stand in awe before the Lord, and put their trust in him.

God sees you at your lowest point, and his heart breaks when yours is broken. Our God is a loving, compassionate father. Nowhere in scripture does it say that your life won’t fall apart, but it does promise that he’s not going to leave you nor forsake you whenever it does. I get to be living proof of that. I get to look back at my lowest point and say, “What a difference a year makes!” This is promised to you as well. It may not take a year for God to turn things around for you or it may take much longer. He has his timing and will work all things for our good. He is quite adept at doing such things at just the right time. 

What I really wanted to say to you today is this: if you are in a low spot or the next time you are in one, keep the faith and trust that God is going to come to your rescue. He hears your cries and sees your pain. He will offer you a hand and lift you out of the pit. He will put your feet on solid rock, and you will have no other choice but to sing the praises of what he has done. If he did it for me, I can assure you that he will do it for you. His love for us is not based on our circumstances. When life goes awry, it is not because he is angry or displeased with us. It is simply that we are broken people living in a broken world, and life is not easy. Each of our stories will have moments when we are wounded. It is typically in those times that we most experience God’s love. He will not leave you in that pit; he has promised that to you. Because of that, we can always have hope.

Published by smith1626

I am the Director of Youth Ministries at St. John United Methodist Church in Scott Depot, WV. Mostly, I am a sinner saved by amazing grace.

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