I know a man who never says it is a bad day. Instead, he says that God made even the most difficult days and, therefore, no day is bad. In fact, when I have complained about the nasty weather or some other frustrating situation, this man has reminded me that there are no bad days . I have to admit, hearing his exhortations can be annoying since few things are as unpleasant as someone seeing right through my socially appropriate small talk and into my ungrateful heart. The truth is, though, this man is right: if God really is in control of all things, then there are no “bad days.” Sure, there are bad things that happen during our days because this is a fallen world; however, each day is a day that God has made and He is using even the hard, unpleasant pieces as parts of the puzzle of His redemptive plan for Creation. Each day that we wake up, we are privileged to be part of that redemptive plan and to play a role in the most amazing story ever written.
As 2016 reaches its end, it is tempting to join with the those who have dubbed it the “worst year ever.” Each of us has experienced disappointments and losses this year. Some of us have had our worldviews shattered by news stories that reveal things that we never wanted to know about humanity. Others have lost their feelings of safety and security as a result of heinous acts of terror. Popular icons have died and have left their grieving fans behind them. Many of us have lost loved ones through arguments, relocation and death. There is no doubt about it, 2016 was a hard year for many of us.
Still, 2016 was not the “worst year ever,” nor was it a bad year. In fact, 2016 was a year that was composed of days that were each gifts from God. 2016 was an opportunity for each of us to play an important role in God’s plans for salvation. It was a chance to explore and experience God’s creation. It offered us the possibility to see the world more like He does: beautifully made but tragically marred by sin. It gave us time to love and to be loved. It held countless people and events that were meant to show us how faithful and merciful God is to us.
For me, 2016 was a year of immense joy and intense sadness. It was full of unexpected turns and it brought me to places that I did not intend to go. Yet, it was a good year because those places that I would rather have avoided were exactly the places that God wanted me to be. I am excited for the hope that 2017 holds, but I do not want to dismiss the gifts of 2016 as parts of a “bad year.” I want to be forever changed by everything that happened this year so that I may become more of the person that God meant for me to be and I want to appreciate 2016 as critical to the salvation story that God is writing.
Psalm 118:24 says “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” As 2016 draws to an end, let us remember that it was a year that the Lord made and gave to us as a blessing. Let us think of both the good and the difficult parts as precious gifts from God, because we know that each of them brought us closer to the culmination of His plan for the world. Let us rejoice and thank God for the many ways that He shaped 2016. Let us rest in hope for 2017 and let us pray for His will to be done in the year ahead.