As 2017 comes to a close …

“This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope; The LORD’S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,

for His compassions never fail, They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness.

The LORD is my portion, says my soul, therefore, I have hope in Him.” Lam 3:21–24

As this year comes to an end, it is a time to remember and reflect on all that God has so graciously done for us in 2017. Memories are an important part of our makeup, yet what we choose to meditate on is crucial to the spiritual health and happiness of our soul.

The prophet Jeremiah saw tremendous affliction when his beloved Jerusalem was devastated due to discipline from the hand of a just God. When his mind dwelt on the suffering all around him, his soul felt desolate, walled in, chained, full of bitterness, and void of peace. He cowered in the dust and his strength perished (see Lam 2:1–3:20). Yet, when his thoughts turned to recall the everlasting lovingkindness of God—the goodness, the compassion, and the faithfulness of God—Jeremiah’s soul was lifted out of the dust to bless God and rejoice in the hope He alone can give (Lam 3:21–24)!

As we reflect and remember this past year, we recall the tests, trials, and sufferings that so many of our friends and family (both at home and abroad) have endured. From the tragic loss of loved ones, to terminal disease, injury, natural disasters, and poverty—suffering abounds. Yet, joy and hope can also abound, found in the soul of one who is stayed upon Christ, our Lord. He indeed comforts, strengthens, and gives hope—He indeed is faithful. For hope is not a physical object or a fickle emotion; hope is a Person—the Person of Jesus Christ! His mission to this Earth was to seek and to save the lost (Luk 19:10), to bring good news to the afflicted; to bind up the brokenhearted and to set the captives free (Isa 61:1–2; Luk 4:18–19)!

In reading through Psalm 119 recently, I was struck by how many times the author—who was enduring great suffering at the time of writing—credited his joy in times of trial with his understanding of God’s Word. Consider this compilation from verses in Psalm 119:

“My soul weeps because of grief; strengthen me according to Your word.

This is my comfort in my affliction, that Your word has revived me.

If Your law had not been my delight, then I would have perished in my affliction.

I will never forget Your precepts, for by them, You have revived me.

I am exceedingly afflicted, revive me, O LORD, according to Your word.

Trouble and anguish have come upon me, yet Your commandments are my delight.”

Psa 119:28, 50, 92–93, 107, 143

The power of God’s Word is incredible; the preaching and teaching of God’s Word is crucial!

Thank you for sharing in ministry, for praying, for giving, for encouraging, and for caring. In doing so, you have been a part of proclaiming Jesus Christ to numerous places on the globe and—through the ministry of God’s precious Word—encouraging the suffering saints and those who minister to them. Gratitude comes to you from the bottom of our hearts, and from around the world.

In 2018, may your soul find comfort and joy in the “blessed hope” of Jesus Christ (Tit 2:12), for He is coming soon! To God be the glory!

Gene, Nan, and the BTBM staff!