Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Saga Continues

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thes. 5:18

Today’s posting will make more sense if you have read the previous blogs about the healing at the pool of Bethesda. You can read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

February was finally over. I had struggled greatly the last couple of weeks. But flipping the calendar to a new month matched my new resolve to get back on track. Enough emotional drama. Time to find my center.

I picked up a book I’d wanted to get into, knowing it would help me refocus. A few pages in I reached for a journal. Note taking is an essential part of my study routine. I hesitated. Which journal would be the right place for these notes? I finally picked up my thanksgiving journal, thinking I’d carve a space out at the back.

I’ve not been in here for a while...

Before starting my notes, I flipped open to the last entry. January 30. Wow.

Is there any clearer picture as to why you’ve struggled so? God whispered.

I couldn’t deny it. The evidence condemned me from the page. I had stopped being thankful.

As I glanced through the journal, I noticed a pattern of decline. Daily entries listed praises to God all through the fall and into the winter months. But throughout January the entries become more sporadic, every other day here, sometimes only once or twice a week. Then with the end of January came the end of the entries.

The slow fade of the Casting Crowns’ song.

That is why February became so difficult. I stopped being thankful. I let my eyes shift off my Gifter. Then when the battle hit later that month, facing the emotions of anniversaries, I stood unprepared and unprotected for the onslaught. Our greatest temptation (James 1) when hard times come is trusting the goodness of God. Emotionally raw and spiritually disconnected, when the enemy whispered the doubts in my ear during the John bible study, it took weeks to fight them off.

Because my eyes were on my loss, it was easier to doubt and question than to trust. When people pointed out places I could express gratitude, I resisted wanting to hold up the negatives to counteract the positives. With my self focus and pain it became easier to doubt than believe.

My journal lay on my lap challenging me.
Who did I want to be?

Did I want to be the struggling, complaining, stressed-out doubter?
Or did I want to be the strong, grateful,trusting worshiper?

The difference between the two rested solely on my choice of perspective. Would I thankfully receive all God offered as gifts from his hand? Or would I begrudgingly complain at what I felt should also be there?

As today's verse shows, thankfulness is a command. We are to be thankful. When we are thankful, we see God’s goodness. It builds trust. That brings joy and peace even when surrounded by chaos.

But thankfulness goes against the grain of our society. It leads to humility, other centeredness, contentment…all contrary to the selfishness, pride and striving of the world. It must be a choice. It must be intentional. And, thus for me, it must have accountability.

So my journal entries are consistent again. I do not have a choice. It helps me be who I want to be. It keeps me connected to God. It keeps me strong and ready and at my guard.

So I share what challenged me with you today. How thankful are you? Do you have trouble trusting the goodness of God? If so, then that’s where to start. Look for the blessing of his hand. Soon you won’t be able to write fast enough or long enough to get them all down. Not because he’s suddenly there. .. but because you finally are looking and see them.

For more information about the power of giving thanks in building trust and producing joy, I highly recommend Ann Voskamp’s best seller book, 1000 Gifts.

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever. Psalm 136:1

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