2016 has proved to be one of the most difficult years in my life. From the loss of good friends to my mother’s battle with cancer. The year was hard. It brought much pain. I lost friendships due to unknown reasons. The mark of the first semester of this year was tears, pain, and uncertainty.

In the middle of it all, God took me to a place where healing, reassurance, strength and a new sense of purpose arose. He took me to a “small” church in Baton Rough, Louisiana. I hate warm weather, and he took me to a place where not only it was hot but incredibly humid as well. When I got off that plane at the beginning of the summer, I was welcomed by the Louisiana weather.

It was the first time I was going to a Church I had heard of through Google, I knew no one, and was uncertain as for if the youth pastor would show up. There I was broken, in pain, and with my luggage waiting to see what God will do and unfold over the course of the following weeks.

I had no idea that a lifelong prayer was about to be answered as God was leading me to a Church and a movement I had always dream of and longed for; a place where the Holy Spirit was free to move and the authority of Scripture was evident. I come from a Christian tradition where raising hands and clapping hands were something done only by Pentecostals, and God forbid, we were not Pentecostals.

As a teenager, I had an encounter with the Holy Spirt, and my life changed. Since then I looked for and longed for an expression of faith that holds a healthy balance between the conservative wing of the Church and the Pentecostal/Charismatic wing. I embraced on a theological quest to find some reconciliation between both sides.

Every single day of the summer God showed up and touched my life. He brought into my life incredible people who marked me. However, it was the movement he placed me for the summer that hit me. We went to a conference in Houston, TX. It was there where God cleansed me and confronted me. It was there that he reassured the calling in my life. It was in the midst of this spiritual environment that I heard the following song:

“It’s so hard to live in this moment
When worries keep calling my name
But why do I fear when your presence is near
Keeping me safe all the way
I don’t have to fear for the future
Or seek treasures that rust and decay
For your love remains through the joy and the pain
And you give me what I need today
Yeah you give me what I need today”

I do not know what 2017 will bring, nor what it has in store for you and me. However, I do know that God is and will continue to be with us in spite of whatever may come. Jesus said:

“I am with you all the days (perpetually, uniformly, and on every occasion), to the [very] close and consummation of the age. Amen (so let it be).” Mt. 28:20 AMP

Take these words and apply them to your life as 2017 is about to start. No matter what you go through during the upcoming year. Take heart and remember that God’s presence is always near you. As a matter of fact, according to Ephesians: “after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, Eph 1:13.”

As we enter the unknown (we do not know what 2016 has in store for us) let us take heart and gain confidence in the reality that he holds our lives (Ps. 66:9-11). He is in control, no matter how hard the storm might be, he is the one who speaks to nature and brings it to peace. He surely will bring your storm to stillness.

I learned that through joy and pain, God’s love remains. Through every season in life, whether it is a good one, a bad one, a sweet one, or a sour one, he remains the same. He will pour his life in due time and according to the measure of my circumstance.

Jesus told us not to worry about what tomorrow will bring because each day brings its “pressure.” He will manifest an extravagant canopy of love, grace, mercy, and blessing in your life and mine as we place our hope in Him.

As 2016 comes to its end and 2017 is about to begin. Let us pray every single day that we have open hearts to be aware of what is it that God will give us.