Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name! Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits:
Who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies, who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Psalm 103:1-5, NKJV
We’re just days away from putting 2018 in the history books. And although time itself will not stop, I would suggest that the turning of the year affords one of the best times for us to personally stop. The appeal of Psalm 46:10 to “Be still and know that I am God,” is appropriate everyday of the year, but there’s something about the end of the year that makes it especially impactful. As Psalm 103 reveals, one of the best ways we can bless God is to remember how He has blessed us. So before 2019 whisks us away into the future, let me suggest just a few questions that can help us reflect on the past in order to be still, to know God, and to bless God.
GROWTH | HOW HAVE I GROWN SPIRITUALLY?
Growth isn’t something that’s easily perceived. Have you ever tried to watch your lawn grow? Though difficult to detect in real-time, however, we can look back and discern changes and differences more easily in our rear view mirror. Last January, I shared this Discipleship Self-Assessment with our church family. Though originally intended to be a tool to map out future growth, the assessment portion may help you understand past growth if you compare how you would have answered the questions at the beginning of the year to how you can answer them now. If this tool is a little too dry for you to really make use of, try reading through the the fruit of the Spirit passage in Galatians 5:22-23 and reflect on ways God is growing you in love, joy, peace, etc.
PRAYERS & PROMISES | WHAT PRAYERS HAS GOD ANSWERED? WHAT PROMISES HAVE BEEN PRECIOUS TO ME?
Take time to reflect on the nature of your conversations with God throughout the year. How has He worked in answer to prayer. How has He encouraged You through His Word this year? If you’re feeling like this set of questions doesn’t apply to you because you don’t think your prayer life or time in the Word has been ample, give yourself more time to process and ponder. You may find that God has answered prayers you’ve felt but not expressed or that there have been promises that are clearly precious now only with what you can see in retrospect.
PRESENCE & ABSENCE | WHEN WAS I ESPECIALLY AWARE OF GOD’S PRESENCE? WHEN DID I FEEL LIKE GOD WAS ABSENT?
The second of these questions may not appear to generate a pleasant train of though on the surface, but I encourage you to go there anyway. You may be surprised that what felt like a time of distance from God actually turned out to be a season in which you walked most closely to Him. The reality is that whether we feel like it or not, God is always true to His promise to never leave us nor forsake us (Heb. 13:5). Your willingness to reflect on God’s presence and apparent absence this year can actually fortify you to be even more aware of His nearness in all seasons of 2019, whether filled with daylight or darkness.
So go ahead. Be still and know that He is God. Bless His holy name and forget none of His benefits. Enter into the new year with confidence in and assurance so you can boldly say:
The Lord is my helper;
I will not fear.
Hebrews 13:6, NKJV