Ten years ago, I sat across the table from a dear friend whose mother had recently passed away. As we shared a bowl of cheese dip, she talked to me about the pain of losing someone so close to her. Her grief was raw; her questions were real. But what I saw even more was how she clung to Jesus through her pain. That night she shared with me about keeping a journal of gratitude through the difficult season of watching her mom battle an illness and eventually go into the arms of Jesus. Each night, she wrote out specific things she was thankful for, things she was trusting God for, and a promise of God she was clinging to. Over time, she had pages and pages filled with her thoughts and desires. Although it did not change her circumstances, it gave her perspective in the midst of life’s storms.
What Happens When We Trace God’s Goodness
As I walked the Manhattan streets back to my apartment that night, I was challenged by the discipline of my friend and her simple practice to remind herself of truth. At that time, I was in a season where life felt mundane and so many desires were unmet. It was so easy to lay my head on my pillow at the end of the day and think that the Lord was not answering my prayers and wonder where He was in my story.
That night, I decided to start keeping my own journal. I began with just one word of gratitude each night, one desire or need I wanted to trust the Lord with, and one promise of God I knew to be true. What began on that night ten years ago slowly became a fixture in my life that filled journal after journal. Gradually, I realized that no matter how hard life felt or how many desires were unrealized, there was always something to be thankful for. I also began to see that the little and big things I was trusting God for were slowly being answered. More than anything, I saw the Lord’s continued faithfulness in my life.
Psalm 107: Give Thanks to the Lord
Recently, I began memorizing verses from Psalm 107 with my two small children. “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his steadfast love endures forever” (Psalm 107:1). I long for my children to know and cling to the promises of God through the ups and downs of life. The psalmist begins by celebrating the greatness of God over not just individuals, but also over all the nations. He goes on to specifically address the many calamities of men: from imprisonment (vv. 10-16) to sickness (vv. 17-22), and danger at sea (vv.23-32). In each situation, there was great distress. Yet, in each circumstance they cried to the Lord, and He was present. He heard the cries of their heart, and He answered them. In verse 27, he describes them by saying, “they were at their wits end.” They responded to trouble with faith, which in turn was met by a loving God: “Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble and he delivered them from their distress” (v. 28). The words of this psalm highlight the brokenness of man from the very beginning and the steadfast faithfulness of God.
Our circumstances may be different than the Israelites and the early church, but we’ve all had moments and seasons in life where we were in distress, moments where it was hard to see the goodness of the Lord and to give thanks for our day. Though we cannot always control our circumstances, we can control how we respond to them. May we be women who cling to the promises of God. His steadfast love endures forever (v. 1). He satisfies the longing soul (v. 9). He delivers His children from distress (v. 13).
There is something very sweet about taking time in our day to acknowledge what we are thankful for, areas where we need to trust the Lord, and a promise we know to be true. As I look back over the journals through the years, I see certain days where my heart went back to the same prayers over and over again. Some days I relate to the words of Psalm 107 with my cries of distress, but what I see most is the Lord’s faithfulness to me. He has been good to me. He is worthy of all my thanksgiving—not just on the good days, but every day.
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