Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears, do you not hear? And do you not remember? Mark 8:18
I often wonder how much of God I miss. I burrow my head down to get through my agenda and focus on the urgent in front of me. Even when I do catch glimpses of God’s hand in my day, I can miss connecting all the dots around it.
A few years ago, I began keeping a list of things I could thank God for. I needed to see the good in our days. I was full up with pressing need and a shapeless future and I needed to record all the good right in the midst of the hard.
Each morning, I opened my journal, numbered a short list and began to think back over the previous day. What had the day held? How had God revealed Himself? What special things had made me smile? I kept a running list. Some mornings, I listed really big things. Most times though, I thanked God for small moments, little things, everyday comforts that were like a personal present wrapped just for me.
When I start with thanking God, it keeps me from rushing straight to my long list of needs. My instinct is to start with my need because I so want God to fix it.
But starting with thanksgiving first flips my perspective around. Instead of hyper-focusing on my circumstance, I begin to see all the ways that God has already loved me. I see God’s goodness, how He’s gone before me, His provision, His sufficiency and really? How richly blessed I am. I begin to connect dots between my prayers and what God is doing.
Having eyes to see good in seasons of suffering changes my whole perspective.
I called a friend yesterday who I knew also kept a thankfulness journal. I asked her why she had started.
Debbie and her husband had been heartbroken over a difficult situation. “We were blaming ourselves for what happened, saying this must be something we did and deserved.” But then Debbie read Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts and she began keeping a list of thanks. Every day, she would add to the list, keeping her journal open and recording her thanksgiving throughout the day.
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“It opened my eyes to just how active God is in our life and how good He is. It increases my joy, my peace and my trust because I’m seeing Him and the gifts He gives throughout the day — constantly. I see Him as a very personal God, not just someone I’ve read about.”
Writing down my thanks helps me see not just that God is good, but that He is good to me.
Debbie said her habit of writing down thanks prepared her for a season of back-to-back hard. First, she was diagnosed with a bone tumor that was benign but still meant surgery and a long recovery. Six months later, her husband was badly injured in a car accident, requiring more surgery and more recovery. Nine months after that, Debbie found a lump and went through aggressive cancer treatment.
When her emotions plummeted and her fear surged, she would read through old journals, remembering God’s constant faithfulness and all that He’d already done. [She just finished entry #5492!]
Writing down my thanks helps me capture God’s goodness not just for today, but for tomorrow when I need to remember.
God asks us to give thanks in all circumstances. Not thanks for the suffering, but thanks in the suffering. I don’t want to miss it. Right in the midst of even the hard days, I want eyes that see God’s goodness.