Last Updated on March 21, 2018

Looking around my table this past Thanksgiving, I took a long drink of that goodness that feels so deeply good.

For me, it was the Thanksgiving of dreams: We were back on furlough from Africa, crowded with close friends and family around a table that can’t even hold all of our feast. We laughed over the tops of our glasses, told stories around the pink-cheeked kids tucked on our laps, harmonized to Christmas carols around the piano.

Honestly, it was marred only by the fact that it is short goodness. You know that feeling?

See, in less than a month now, my family will heft their carry-ons onto a 757 that jets us back across the ocean. Back to a land that’s held more blessing than I can even speak of, more than I’d ever have anticipated—but a land full of discomfort and risk. It’s a place so far away from my dad’s thick-armed hugs, my mom squeezing the kids in a post-Bingo hug, my nephew in PJ’s begging my husband (“Unka John!”) to wrestle just a few minutes more.

And like many of you, my toes are perched over the edge of some major life decisions. I can think and pray about what the right ones are, and I can trust God will give me the wisdom I’m asking for. But only God knows what I will see when I look back on 2014.

It’s nothing short of fear. Even with the giggles of my kids that jiggled full tummies in a warm home, I was toying with a sheer lack of faith: in God’s goodness, the perfection of what He has for us. I go from being open-handed with such good and perfect gifts — my kids, my husband, a blessed year of health and well-met needs and wants — to loving them more than Him.  It even leads to distrusting the Giver. And ultimately, as Beth Moore has said, that’s what I’m calling into question: Is God more of a giver, or a taker?

I’ve got to ask myself, Isn’t God going before me and my family in 2014? If something happens that hurts me or my loved ones, is He not still good—when I can understand it or can’t? Even in the worst, hasn’t He still blessed, and been with us and in us?

God is bigger than 2014.

Some of you have had an exquisitely painful 2013. Your year, perhaps, was scarred with jagged cuts of loss. Conflict. Tears. Loneliness. Fear. Maybe you’re wondering if the other shoe is going to drop. Maybe you’re gun-shy after a year that left you feeling left in, or dragged through, the dust.

You may have had a 2013 like my family: full of goodness both expected and unexpected, yet braided with its share of difficulty and discomfort. Or like other years I’ve had, you may be eager to see it in your rearview mirror.

I’m praying our Prince of Peace wraps you in faith. I pray He’ll bring to mind so many reminders of His character—who He’s been to your family—as you trust Him for what you anticipate. And what you can’t.

… for we walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7)

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  1. Great post, Janel! A lot of the same conversation Ray and I are having this morning. Will be praying for you all as you head back to Africa. Thanks so much for loving God so much that you do sacrifice comfort, family and miles to do His will.

    1. Thank you so much, Robyn. These goodbyes really stink :). Thankful for the promise of heaven, and that God’s faithfulness is not one of my uncertainties this year–!