The Big 3-3!

Good afternoon from Managua, Nicaragua!

Yesterday I had the joy of celebrating my 33rd birthday. For me a birthday is a great opportunity to reflect on the past year and to consider how I might live in the upcoming year. In doing that this year, the first word that comes to mind is joy. Over my two and a half years in Nicaragua, I have experienced many ups and downs. With the good moments has come joy and happiness. With the challenging moments has come frustration and pain. The ups and downs and the feelings that come with them are a normal part of life. While both come and go, my experience is that the difficult moments in life tend to stick with me more. In fact, I would go as far as to say that they have the ability to rob me of my joy if I am not careful. It is this I hope to avoid in my 33rd year of life.

In his letter to the Romans, Paul, a Follower of Jesus, wrote, “May God fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 15:13, NIV 1984) As I move into this new year of life, my hope is to be full of joy. In many ways this comes from keeping my eyes focused on the right place. Instead of allowing the challenges, worries, and circumstances to control my outlook on life, I want to keep my eyes focused on God and his peace. For me, that means choosing to find the joy in each new day that God has given me, despite the circumstances around me. Each new day is a gift and an opportunity. My hope this year is to live in light of that truth.

I have no idea what this year holds, but I am sure it will be full of ups and downs. What I am also sure of is that it can be full of joy and peace. I believe the same is true for every single person who is reading this. Every day is a new chance to choose life. Yes, there will be pain and frustration, but they do not have to define us. Rather, we can look for the joy in the midst of the pain, living each day for the gift that it is. I pray, as Paul did, that each of us would be full of God’s joy and peace so that we “may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit”. Here’s to another year!

– James Belt

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