Today’s message is much different from our usual sermons. In this week’s message we closed out our 2011 year plan called the “Year to Increase”. The message begins with several people sharing their stories from the year.

For many, 2011 was a year of sorrow, a year in which there was loss and difficulty. Those sorrows are not to be hidden because of shame or given the power to overtake and consume us, but they are to be given to God and entrusted to Jesus. Matthew 5:4 says “Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” For most of my life, I have believed that the comfort is the removal of sorrow and pain, but I have come to learn that comfort is not the absence of sorrow but rather God’s love in the midst of sorrow, His concern in the midst of hurt, His grace in the midst of failure and His joy in the midst of weeping.

My prayer is that when we look back at this year that we will not simply define it with one outstanding emotion or event, but rather that we will see clearly how God works in the midst of every emotion and event. There has been great increase in my life and in the lives of many, but what I have learned in the midst of that is what John the Baptist declared long ago, “He must increase,but I must decrease.” The increase of God always costs the decrease of me, of my understanding, my personal plans and my ambitious desires. There are even times in which sorrow, struggle and difficulty create a decrease of my own strength so that I can finally depend upon and trust in the strength of God. This year I set out to increase for His glory and God has kindly decreased me and shown me the increase of His life through mine.