Sunday, July 27, 2014

Thankfulness - Especially in the Darkness

I ran across an old journal tonight when I was looking for something else. I sat down in a plastic storage tub, on top of an ancient comforter that now serves as a drop cloth. Immediately I was transported back in time. First, I relieved my friendship with sweet Laura, and how God allowed me to love and serve her and her family in her last days and beyond. That experience forever changed me and opened my heart to love others. How God has enriched my life by bringing me so many dear friends after I took a chance and let myself love Laura!

In one of those entries, I wrote about Laura's cousin, who had told me how God worked during her separation from her husband, and how both of them were drawn closer to God through it. I saw the glory of God shining in her eyes as she recounted that story, and I wanted that kind of joy and peace for myself. But I shuddered at the price of it.

I wrote this prayer on July 11, 2011 (11 months before my marriage fell apart, almost to the day):

Lord, have mercy.... What might that mercy look like? Am I strong enough to survive it? Please prepare me for whatever the future will bring. Let me be so rooted and grounded in your love that I'm not shaken by the hard times, but instead send my roots down deeper.

Tonight, tears of joy and wonder streamed down as I realized how faithful God has been to answer that prayer. When I wrote it out (with trembling fingers), I had no idea what was coming. But God did, and He already knew how He would use it all for my good.

Fast forward one year and four months, to November 2, 2012. This was about three weeks before Bill and I separated, when I was in the deepest despair I'd ever known. In that entry, I wrote a list of everything I was thankful for. I didn't say why I was writing it, but probably it was to help me focus on what is pure and lovely and excellent and praiseworthy (Philippians 4:8).

I'm thankful for my health. For sleep. I'm thankful for morning walks with God. For sunsets and sunrises, and eyes to appreciate them. I'm thankful for trees, flowers, birds. I'm thankful for chocolate peanut butter banana smoothies, for homemade bread from freshly ground wheat. I'm thankful for food on the table and for my family together at dinner each night.

I'm thankful for Allyson's laughter, her hugs, and her kisses. I'm thankful for Ethan's musical talent, his intelligence, his love of learning. For our home, our yard, our dog, our pool. For heat and air conditioning and clean water. 

I'm thankful for a peaceful home because Bill and I try to treat each other with respect..... 

I'm thankful for God's love that never fails me, even when I fail Him. I'm thankful for peace that surpasses my understanding, not a peace that the world gives. 

I'm thankful for second chances and hundredth chances. I'm thankful for mercy and compassion. And music. I love to sing praises to my God. 

I love morning snuggles and bedtime songs with Allyson, back scratches for Ethan, reading Scripture to my children.

I'm thankful for Bible study, for the ladies who love me and encourage me and pray for me. I'm thankful for the truth of God's word and for a heart that longs for God. I'm thankful for the storm I'm in! Because God is using it for my good. I'm 42 years old and I'm changing and growing and learning. 

I'm thankful that I don't need to worry because God is in control. He loves me, and his plan for me is good. He ordained all of my days before one of them came to be. He guides me with his light. He knows where we're going because darkness is as light to Him [Psalm 139].

I'm thankful that I am never Forsaken, always Beloved. That I can nestle under His wings and be carried against my Shepherd's heart. I'm thankful that He sees me, knows me, takes delight in me. He rejoices over me with singing! He quiets me with His love [Zephaniah 3:17]. He redeems my life from the pit. He crowns me with love and compassion. He satisfies my desires with good things. [Psalm 103].

He heals me with His Word. He never leaves me or forsakes me. My heart is steadfast when I trust in Him.This is His book, and He is the author of my salvation. It's going to be a good story, one that brings Jesus glory. 

I am thankful to be alive, thankful for a grateful heart. May I ever be so, Lord. 

Amen! May I never forget my Father's faithfulness. His mercy is beyond my comprehension.

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