Let me start by saying that 2016 presented a lot of different challenges for me in ministry, in finances, in church, and in family. And just like many of you, some of my favorite celebrities passed away, most notably for me, my musical hero, Prince. Yes, the preacher loved Prince, but that’s another story for another time.
If there is anything that marked 2016 for many of us, it was those celebrity deaths. In addition to that, many of us experienced some deaths of people that were close to us. In my former church, there were 3 significant deaths of long time members, all within a few months. We also witnessed more mass shootings and pointless murders in this world, where compassion seems to be more and more scarce with each passing day.
As if that wasn’t enough, our country elected a man to the White House that at worst is a racist and a misogynist, and at best is one that has no issue with anyone that is racist or misogynistic. There’s a lot that happened this year that had many people that were once hopeful and optimistic feeling as if there was no more hope. But before you give up and give in, there is a question that must be answered: Did YOU die?
I’m gonna be the first to admit that I didn’t like 2016. While it started off great with me publishing my 7th book (Going Through to Get Through), by April I was mourning the death of my aforementioned childhood hero. Shortly after that, those deaths started happening in the church. Along with that, there was all types of issues and strife in that church, where I was born and raised. Trying times, indeed. But as we come to the beginning of a new year, the fact that I’m still here is not lost on me.
What we often miss in the midst of struggle and loss is the fact that God has purpose hidden in the midst of it all. No matter who died in 2016, you didn’t. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t care and that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t mourn, even if you mourned a celebrity that you didn’t know personally (because I mourn for anyone that can only show compassion to people they know). What it does mean is that God has spared us, and that’s not an accident. It’s on purpose. It’s WITH purpose!
If there’s anything that all of us need to take from any year or any time in which we experience multiple tragedies, including what happened on election night, it is an understanding that God left us here to answer back. There’s something that God still wants to get out of us, and that’s why even in the midst of the seemingly unspeakable, God expects us to speak!
Whether it’s with your talents and gifts, through your ministry, or just in how we need to show more love to one another because we don’t know when the last time is the last time, God expects us to go forward with life and be a voice. No matter who dies, we still have to live. Not to mourn perpetually, not to be afraid of politics and policies, and not to be concerned about who’s next to go, because none of us has any of those answers anyway.
Did YOU die? If you’re reading this, the answer to that is an obvious one. The more pertinent questions to answer becomes why not and what do I do with the chance I’m still given. Do you have all of 2017? Who knows. But what you do have is right now. You didn’t die. So, what do you plan to do now?
Happy New Year!