2 Praise the Lord, my soul,
and forget not all his benefits—
3 who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
In the pastor’s message about waiting on God he used the acronym WAIT to remind us what do while we’re in God’s ‘waiting room.’ The ‘W’ stood for ‘write down the lessons I’m learning.’ Purchasing a journal was suggested. I’m a big fan of ‘writing it down.’ The river of life is always flowing, and it is very easy to forget how you shot thru the last set of rapids when more whitewater is coming up quickly. But taking a moment when the water is tranquil to write down lessons or reflections can yield big benefits later.
I am especially fond of having a Gratitude Journal, or at least taking time once a week or so in the regular journal to consider prayers that have been answered, blessings that have been bestowed, breakthroughs in relationships, jobs or wisdom and to thank God for them. For me, as wonderful as the answers to prayers have been (oh, and they have), even more precious was seeing the WAYS in which the prayers were answered - always surprising, always unexpected, always completely out of my hands. Over the years this has helped me to really get a feel for when God is at work in my life.
As a new believer, I was mired in the muck of negative thinking. My brain had been wired to see what I lacked and overlook all that I had. As I struggled through some difficult times, I decided to literally ‘count my blessings.’ Every Thanksgiving Eve service we sing that great, cheerful hymn, ‘Count Your Blessings:’
“Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.”
So that’s what I did. I started listing out all that I was grateful for in my life, big and small, from being alive to indoor plumbing. By the fourth page I started to grasp that my discontent was all in my head. Despite my troubles, I had so much to be thankful for! The recipe for contentment that always seemed to escape me became pretty clear: 1. Count your blessings, 2. Don’t compare yourself, your life, your anything with others (you are on your own, unique path), 3. It’s not about you anyway, so think about yourself less, and others more. Like all of God’s principles, they are simply stated and much more challenging to live out!
Developing an ‘attitude of gratitude’ changed my whole life. It made me a better mother, wife, daughter, friend, co-worker and just…a better person. It’s one of the qualities that cause people to inquire which often leads to the ‘Jesus discussion.’
I still struggle with resentment and frustration sometimes, but then I remember that the world owes me nothing and I owe Jesus everything. He asks me to love and forgive and be humble, and He is Lord of my life, so I will do my best to love and to forgive and to be humble. Since I have given Him my whole life, I try to be very grateful for every good thing, remembering that Jesus warned us that in this world we WILL have trouble.
One of the things I’m especially thankful for is that we have a national day of Thanksgiving. Our culture has tried to turn it into a day of gluttony and materialism, but I am also grateful for all the faithful Christians who have and continue to teach their children and grandchildren the true meaning of the day: a day of gratitude to Almighty God for His hand of protection over our lives, over our nation and over our history. Every step of the way God has been with His people, leading us, preparing us, encouraging us to do His good will throughout the world. His miraculous providence was with our Pilgrim brothers and sisters, and it is with us still – even through COVID, culture wars, political discord, climate changes and economic concerns. God is in control – and that is a blessing we all can count!