I’m NOT excited about the word that I feel God has put on my heart for 2016. It's a bit bizarre and out of the box.
These are the words that come to my mind when I think about the start of the New Year and I think that most of us become reflective about the past 12 months once December rolls around.
A few years ago, I saw the trend of people choosing “One Word” to describe their hopes, dreams, and prayers for the year ahead. I love this idea because it sets a thematic tone for the choices we make and shapes our perspectives when unexpected circumstances confront us.
None of us knows what 2016 will hold, but we can face the New Year with a prayerful attitude that God will fulfill His plans for our lives when we yield to Him.
Two years ago, the word I chose was “HARVEST.” Last year, I felt led to choose a prayer instead of a word. My prayer for 2015 was that I would “hunger and thirst for righteousness more than anything else.” This is what I asked others to pray for me anytime they asked for a prayer request. It will continue to be my prayer in 2016.
BUT, I also have sensed a pattern regarding one particular word that the Lord keeps bringing before me through my quiet times of Bible reading, podcast messages, sermons at church, and books I am reading. It’s also a word that I have experienced much of the past few years. It’s a rather unpleasant word. It’s a word that results from the prayer I prayed in 2015 to hunger and thirst for righteousness.
Most of us choose words like “HOPE” or “LIGHT” or “JOY.” We tend to gravitate to positive words and I wanted to as well. I want my year to be crowned with happy things and beautiful moments. I’m sure they will come.
But this year, my word is “PERSECUTION.” Ugh.
You see, I have come to realize that Jesus’ model of life on earth and His ministry was powerful. Effective. Radical. Foreign. Turbulent. Intense. Controversial. And therefore, Jesus was a man persecuted. Wearied. Spent. Tested. Tried. And, ultimately, He suffered the ultimate in persecution—death on a cross.
Here’s the thing, those who seek to be like Christ are not exempt from the things He faced. The Bible says this:
“Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” (2 Timothy 3:12)
‘“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.” (John 15:18)
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. If you are insulted for the name of Christ, you are blessed, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you.” (1 Peter 4:12-14)
“But even if you should suffer for righteousness' sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled,” ( 1 Peter 3:14)
““Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!” (Luke 6:22)
“For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10)
“We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you.” (2 Corinthians 4:8-12)
These verses are just a sampling of the many times that Jesus warns us about suffering for His Name’s sake. I’m especially impacted by the reaction of Peter and the apostles after a horrific flogging from the religious leaders of the day who persecuted them:
“They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.” (Acts 5:40a-42) The apostles left the beating, “rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name.”
And they continued to obey God, rather than man.
I was serious all those years ago when I told Christ I was His.
I meant it when I said that I would live with an eternal perspective, valuing crowns of righteousness over earthly things.
These past few years, I have been entrenched in heavy ministry—blogging here and for other Christian websites, writing a book (out soon, stay tuned), leading a private Facebook group for moms who struggle with angry reactions, and leading a Bible study group of moms from my church. The persecution has already been thick. I’m not exactly hoping for opportunities to share in Christ’s sufferings as the apostles Peter and Paul were apt to say, but I’m not naïve to think that if I am growing in Christ and serving Him, then those times won’t come.
So, 2016 has me suited up for more spiritual battle. I need your prayers!!
And I’d love to pray for you too! I hope that your “one word” for 2016 is something positive and profoundly personal. We all have our different and unique walks with the Lord and I would love to know what your word is for this year and how you arrived at it!
I’m deeply grateful to begin 2016 with YOU! May the Lord bless you and keep you and may the light of His love surround you in startling beautiful ways this year, whether persecuted or called to enjoy a season of abundance and peace.
YOUR TURN: What is your “one word” for 2016? How did you choose this word?