Battles and Blessings

I have heard it said that life is mostly about battles and blessings, battles and blessings. 2020 certainly showcased this statement for me personally and for us as a ministry. I’m guessing it might be the case for you too! Many battles, many blessings.  And now here we all are in 2021 already, perhaps a little battle-scarred but also, I believe, more aware of His blessings.  

In the gospels, we see this ‘battles and blessings’ contrast playing out in the life of Jesus again and again.  For example, having just been powerfully affirmed and blessed by His Father after baptism – “This is my beloved son with whom I am well pleased (Matt 3:17) –  Jesus finds himself wandering in the desert for nearly 6 weeks, hungry, alone and mercilessly tempted by the enemy.  After facing this gruelling battle head on he emerges victorious and he is ministered to by the angels.  Blessing at last.  But the very next thing we read is that Jesus finds out that His dear cousin, John the Baptiser, has been imprisoned without trial.  Another battle begins.  And so it goes on.  Battle and blessing. 

 I think it was Rick Warren who suggested that the battles and blessings of our lives as Christians often don’t happen consecutively, but rather simultaneously – almost like parallel railway tracks.   Even as we are giving thanks for His amazing blessings, we sense the growing danger of new battles looming around and inside us.  But equally true is that in the depths of the darkest battle there are blessings for us if we keep our eyes open enough to see them, our hands open enough to receive them.   

The first theme we have chosen for this year as a team is RESTORATION.  What a beautiful concept, used throughout the Bible to describe what God wants to do with fallen mankind and a broken world. It is something most of us desire personally, and something the world is in desperate need of.    Restoration is what God wants to do in us as we surrender to Him again this year as King and shepherd (“He restores my soul” Ps 23:3) and then what He wants to do through us as we seek to follow and obey Him as Lord each day (“…you shall be called… the restorer of streets to dwell in” Is 58:12).    

May this new year be a significant year of God’s great restoration – in and through each of us.  Please pray with us that it will also be a year in which CBN SA is used to minister to people in Southern Africa in a deeper, greater way than ever before! For you and your family, my prayer is that 2021 will be a year with more blessing than battle – and that the battles you inevitably do face will be fought with the truth of His Word, leaning on His grace and loving restoration.   

From me and from all of my colleagues at CBN here in South Africa and all around the world, a very sincere and expectant “Happy New Year” to you and to your family.  


Ian Walton

Ian serves as the Regional Director for CBN Southern and East Africa. He loves building teams, telling stories and working in authentic Kingdom partnerships. He and his wife Shélagh are both media professionals and teachers by training. They live near the sea in Cape Town with their daughter, their twin sons and a strange little brown poodle called Eddy.