3 Hard & Precious Surprises of My 2016


Yes, it’s a bit early for a year-end review. But instead of the expected “I’m Thankful For” post of the Thanksgiving season, I’m attempting a twist on the topic by reflecting on three hard and precious surprises of my 2016.

1. When pain returns. 2016 had almost convinced me that my consistent, tormenting back pain of 2+ years was leaving for good. Until a few months later, when, without warning or explanation, it returned. I was deeply disappointed, yet I have to say I was also deeply thankful.

Pain is a powerful thing. It teaches you more than a few lessons while it remains, and then when it rebounds after a long-sought hiatus, the lessons in thankfulness blow through the roof.

In the spirit of the man who was robbed, I’ve discovered five ways I can be thankful for my chronic pain.

  1. Pain-free days become such treasures.
  2. Other types of pain pale in comparison.
  3. Sympathy and compassion for others grows.
  4. The inability to stay active or play the piano provides much time for Scripture study and writing.
  5. Though rarely acknowledged, I at least have reason to believe that I am among the privileged, since the greatest joys are discovered through suffering.

2. When the mind goes to war. Also in 2016, a round of relationship arrows came out of nowhere and threatened to take me down. I walked through a very heavy fog, and guilt seemed to be the destination of every chosen path. Thank you, Lord, for your precious Word, nearly worn raw from my grip, for many times it seemed that’s all I had.

3. When you have frozen yogurt with Jesus. Perhaps the most unexpected happening of my 2016 came in the form of several ongoing opportunities to speak life. Four beautiful gifts effectively placed in my lap with a tag that read, “Congratulations – I’m choosing you to walk this hard road with her.”

Each encounter has stretched me, changed me, left me literally gawking at what can only be God’s handiwork, and reminded me that I would be walking in their shoes were it not for grace {thankfulness?}.

Over the years, I have heard it repeatedly – the Word is sufficient. As I have sat across from each of these young ladies {usually at select frozen yogurt shops – because coffee just won’t do}, I have found it to be true. And the resounding anthem as I trudge through the muck and mire?

As you did it to one of the least of these, you did it to me. Matt 25:40

More than once, I have looked across the table and astounded myself with the thought, “I’m having frozen yogurt with Jesus.”

It will forever mark my 2016. I eagerly anticipate stepping into the unknown of 2017, humbled and honored to be walking the hard road with these {and more?} whom God is transforming.

It is in the midst of all these things that sweet grace produces this heart-song: “Thank you, Lord.”

 [image credit: unsplash.com]

14 thoughts on “3 Hard & Precious Surprises of My 2016

  1. Beautiful. As a chronic pain sufferer, I agree with you on the gratitude. Pain is a gift, a terribly inconvenient one at times, yet it shapes us into something more Christlike than we could ever be without it. Thank you for sharing your challenges and triumphs with us.


  2. I love this post. As someone who has been through too much and is still struggling to return to scripture and faith, this is something I needed to read. Maybe, just maybe, I will make more of an effort to reconnect because if you haven’t lost your faith, why should I give up on mine?

    Thank you & God Bless,

    Emmie xo
    Unsigned, Me Blog ‖ http://www.unsignedmeblog.co.uk


    1. Oh, trust me – it’s not easy. Most of the time, I hate my pain and really wish it would go away. With God’s help, I’m choosing to see it with eyes of gratefulness as I recognize the beautiful things God is doing in my life through it. In my humanity, I’m NOT thankful for my pain. In Christ, my transformed heart says, even of pain, “Thank you, Lord.”

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautiful post! Thank you for sharing in such transparency and rawness the hope you have despite your fiery trials.

    I just heard a Charles Stanley sermon this morning where he highlighted God’s viewpoint in the midst of trials. One such viewpoint is that God is in the trial with us. I thought of the fiery furnace with Shadrach, Meshack and Abendigo (forgive my spelling lol.) Jesus was their in their midst, and He is with us even still.

    I leave here encouraged and blessed.


  4. Like the rock in my shoe, there are some things I put up with, and probably not the pain that you are enduring. To have yogurt with Jesus is a treat and the ladies too could be there with your visit. In as much as you have given yogurt to the least of these you have done it unto me. Thank you for sharing with us here at Tell me a Story.


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