Happy New Year! I hope you enjoyed welcoming in 2020, this new decade we have entered. As I have done for the past few years, I have chosen a word rather than make a resolution. This year, I’m sensing that the Lord is calling me to a year of thankfulness, restoration and renewal. But my focus will be on thankfulness.
I’m going to be brutally honest here. December was probably one of the darkest months I have been through in my life. I had no desire to do Christmas and I found myself in despair about the new year, not even wanting to try in the coming year. I figured I would just expect heartache for 2020 instead of looking ahead with expectations for good things. I’m assuming I fell prey to depression and my heart breaks for those who experience that for long periods of time.
The truth is the facts didn’t line up with my emotions. As I look back, my year was pretty good. We made some progress in our remodeling journey, had some amazing wins in the boys schooling and Big Bro’s progress, and even growth in my marriage. Yet somehow it felt like the worst year ever. How fickle our human emotions are!
But God. He reached down through it all and renewed my hope. I woke up January 1 with the hymn Great is Thy Faithfulness in my head. Specifically the line about strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow. And I just couldn’t help but praise God for the renewed hope and perspective change.
The most important thing we can do in dark times is lean in harder to the Lord. Keep praying. Stay in the Word. Be looking for God in everything. Cultivate a thankful heart.
When we draw near to the Lord, he will draw near to us. (James 4:8)
Thankfulness opens the door for us to experience God’s goodness and that, in turn, gives us more things to be thankful for. It’s about keeping our eyes on Jesus, lifting them up and away from ourselves and the here and now. That’s not as easy as it sounds, I know. But God. He won’t leave you or forsake you.
Are you in a tough spot right now? Is life threatening to crush you? Sometimes as moms, all it takes is a day with difficult situations and cranky kids on top of a low paycheck week. Sometimes as women it’s a week where all our housekeeping efforts produce nothing but messes. Maybe it’s been a month or more of all of that happening and then some. Maybe you’re walking through the grief of losing a loved one. Whatever it is, God has not forsaken you. He’s right there with you whether you can feel Him or not.
To the faithful He shows himself faithful (Psalm 18:25)
Keep praying. Stay in the Word. Be looking for God in everything. Cultivate a thankful heart.
As I walked through the darkness, I kept leaning into the Lord. Last year He invited me to learn about and experience His goodness. On that journey, He blessed me with the discovery that oftentimes, God’s goodness shows up most vibrantly in the trials and sufferings of this life. Just a few days ago, I read something in the book The Rest of God by Mark Buchanan (affiliate) that showed me what to do with what I had learned about God’s goodness. He said:
“That’s a perfect description of those who train themselves in God’s goodness and sovereignty: every year you grow, you find him bigger. The best way I know to embody this Godward orientation is thankfulness. Thankfulness is a secret passageway into a room you can’t find any other way. It is the wardrobe into Narnia. It allows us to discover the rest of God—those dimensions of God’s world, God’s presence, God’s character that are hidden, always, from the thankless. Ingratitude is an eye disease every bit as much as a heart disease.”
-Mark Buchanan, The Rest of God
I realized that the appropriate response to coming face to face with and experiencing God’s goodness was thankfulness and not just in the present but remembrance of what God has done.
There’s not a challenge going on with this like the Goodness of God challenge but I will be posting about thankfulness from time to time on the blog throughout the year.
It is my prayer now and will be this year that we will be blessed by remembering and giving God the glory as we continue to look for Him in our every day.