I like to pray in the mornings. On the occasional morning the weather cooperates, I prefer to sit outside. I like to hear the birds sing and listen to my roosters try to outcrow each other. I’m not a rich gal by the world’s standards, but I’m wealthy beyond compare when I count my blessings. See, not too long ago my Pastor challenged our church with this question:
“What if we woke up tomorrow and only had the things we had thanked God for yesterday?”
The next morning when I sat on my little back porch talking to Him, I began to thank God for my backyard, my chickens, the sunshine, a little fixer-upper to call home, the whole "nine yards", if you will. That may sound silly, but I remember praying earnestly that this little house, with its shade trees and big yard, would somehow be God’s will and would become home to my family. I remember wishing for chickens. I remember the times when my children were sick, and I prayed for the day when they would be well and running through the backyard climbing trees. I remember praying for a reliable vehicle with air conditioning, a bigger kitchen, a better job for my husband.
I REMEMBER longing and asking God for what I have now.
How could I fail to thank Him? On the days when it feels like everything is going wrong and all of hell has decided to pick on me, I can still look out the window and find an abundance of ‘little blessings’. When my son leaves superheroes in my husband’s work boots or my daughter kicks her sandals off by the front door, I can count those as blessings. When the world seems to take all the wrong turns, when my bank account is much closer to red than we care to see it, when doctors give us reports we don’t want to hear, when I feel like I’m in a dry valley, I can always find blessings in my life. I may have to set my eyes on them. I may have to choose to see my blessings, but I can thank God.
I don’t like valleys or dark places any more than the next person. As much as I would love to sit in the corner and sulk when I find myself in those places, I’ve been there enough to know that God has a reason. I’ve walked enough hard roads to know that God puts me there to teach me, to help me grow. I’m a stubborn little plant, though, and I don’t always appreciate the lessons in how to grow taller and stronger. Thankfully, God is patient and kind and keeps working on me. When I decide to get out of my funk and follow God, I find my faith stronger than it was before. Faith is a muscle, and muscles require exercise to become strong. If all of my days were sunshine and roses, I would never have an opportunity to exercise my faith muscles. Weak faith won’t get me through the days the church has ahead. Weak faith won’t get me through the tests and trials of life. I need strong and steady faith to make it through those times.
So on the good days, I thank God. Those days are not as hard to be thankful, but I thank Him. On the hard days, when I have to pray through tears and lay my broken heart at His feet, I thank Him. It’s certainly not always easy. It’s hard to reach through my pain and disappointment and trust God when I can’t understand what He’s doing, what His plan is. Still, I thank Him.
Because no matter what my life looks like, in spite of how the darkness around me may try to drown me out, I can still choose to find blessings in my life. The same is true for you, friend. If you have breath in your lungs, you have a blessing in your life, and God has a purpose for you. The pain in your life has a purpose, and I know God has a plan for you. It’s up to you to choose to thank Him, and trust that no matter what the road ahead holds, He will walk with you.