The end of another year brings times of reflection and anticipation. Reflecting on events from the previous year and anticipating what all will happen in the next. For Christians who entertain these thoughts, reflection and anticipation should lead us to ponder the story God weaves throughout our lives. It is a story he shapes day after day and year after year, one circumstance at a time. And for believers, no occurrence is ever wasted or pointless. Each one is part of the greater narrative he promises to work out for his glory and the good of those who love him (Rom 8:28).
As God builds your story each year, thinking about how he masterfully connects all the plots on your storyline can be encouraging and humbling. Recognizing his providential weaving will shape and transform your faith, as you comprehend his work in your life. That’s because stories are powerful, which is why God gave us his Word.
The Bible is one grand narrative that revolves around Jesus Christ and traces events from the creation of the world to a new creation that is still to come. You’ve probably heard before that “history is HIS-story.” Christians believe that, as Creator, God is sovereign and providentially guides all things according to his good purposes, which we read about in the storyline of Scripture.
Think about the different stories of God’s people that have impacted you. They have a powerful impact as you identify with an aspect of that person’s story—stories of Joseph, Rahab, Hannah, Job, Habbakuk, Mary, Peter, Paul, etc. And while the canon of Scripture is closed, we are still a part of God’s unfolding story. He is not done moving in HIS-story, as he continues to shape his children’s stories.
That’s why we should reflect on our story. When we do, it deepens trust in God by recognizing how he worked in our lives to bring us to himself and guide every situation for his glory and our good. Acts 17:24-28 speaks to God’s sovereign hand in our story: “The God who made the world and everything in it — he is Lord of heaven and earth — does not live in shrines made by hands. Neither is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives everyone life and breath and all things. From one man he has made every nationality to live over the whole earth and has determined their appointed times and the boundaries of where they live. He did this so that they might seek God, and perhaps they might reach out and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being.”
These verses tell us that even though God doesn’t need humanity, he chose to create us, giving us life, breath, and everything else. He brought about every nation from Adam and determined the exact time and place we would live, meaning that God pieces together the story of your life beginning with the details of your birth. All for the purpose that you would seek him and come to know him because he is the source of all things. So, he uses the events and people in our lives as storyline contributors that he intends to point us back to him. That is why knowing God’s story is the only way to find meaning in your story.
There’s another aspect of story to consider. Not only does God want us to know his story to understand our own, but he also weaves our stories together with others’ stories. Again, for his glory and our good. Consider 2 Cor 1:3-4: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
When we do, we are helped by the only One who offers faithful consolation as the God of all mercy and comfort. We find support in the God who reigns above the affliction and everything else that impacts our stories.
As our story unfolds, afflictions come, and God comforts us in them, so we are to comfort others. One of the best ways we comfort others is by sharing our struggles and story with them. When we proclaim how God moved in our life, particularly in the very affliction they’re dealing with, we offer the same comfort God gave us as we trusted him with our affliction.
These realities should cause you to reflect on your story, not just the events of 2023 but every year of life that led to where you are today. Because God sovereignly designed those events to bring you to himself, reflect on how he saved you and how he continues to move in your life. As you’re encouraged by this reflection, look for God to intertwine your story with someone else who needs comfort and wisdom to navigate the struggles you once did.
If you’ve never reflected on your story so that you can share it, maybe that’s a good goal as you anticipate what’s to come in 2024. Being equipped with a concise summary of your storyline is an effective tool when ministering to others. Go through the following points to organize pieces of your story with the goal of keeping it to 10-15 minutes. You want it to be succinct and meaningful with clear communication of how God has graciously worked in your life.
Once you construct a concise story, practice telling it to others. As you do, it’ll feel more natural in the times when God leads you to talk to someone else. It’s also helpful to work through parts of our story that hinders us from sharing with others. Some Christians don’t think like they have a “good” story, and others may feel ashamed of their stories. But don’t fall for either of those lies. They’ll only hold you back from real, effective ministry.
Every time God brings someone from death to life, from dark to light is a story worth sharing. In fact, it is the very one he planned since before the creation of the world (Eph 1:3).