Most of us have lost loved ones or lost relationships once very valuable to us. Many have suffered financial hardship or emotional or physical pain. And there are those who are in a season of waiting for an answered prayer or who may be going through a spiritual valley. It’s hard to feel thankful sometimes when everything seems to be falling apart. When our thoughts and feelings dwell on our circumstances and on what seems impossible, we can lose a spirit of thankfulness. So, how do we maintain it or get it back?
What is thanksgiving, after all? It is the expression of gratitude and showing appreciation. And what is praise? Showing admiration or great approval. When we offer praise to God, we tend to move into a spirit of thanksgiving. We praise Him for what He’s done. We praise Him for who He is. Praise and worship are the keys to maintaining a spirit of thanksgiving.
Job lost everything but still declared, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust in Him” (Job 13:15a KJV). Job’s children were killed, and yet he could still bless the name of the Lord (see Job 1). In his season of loss, Job recognized the sovereignty of God.
When you focus on who God is instead of your circumstances, you will find that praise comes naturally. How can we not praise God for all He’s done, for who He is? Because no matter what we may go through, nothing changes that He is worthy, that He is faithful, that He loves us, and that He is good.
Our circumstances change; He does not. He remains.
There have been moments in my life in which I lost so much. Perhaps like many of you, I’ve lost loved ones and relationships. And I’ve dealt with anger, hurt, sadness, loneliness, and all the various emotions that accompany seasons of grief, depression, and waiting. The words “just be thankful for what you have” are not easy to hear or adapt to your life when you can hardly get out of bed in the morning and when grief muddles your thoughts and leaves you feeling sicker by the day. But as someone who’s gone through some of those seasons, I promise you that turning your focus from what you’re going through to who God is will bring some joy back into your life. It will allow you to feel more thankful because you’re no longer putting your focus on the natural but on the supernatural. You’re no longer putting your focus on the impossible but on the one who makes things possible.
And God is always a good God, no matter how trying times become. He’s never left me, and He never will.
I recently came across a song (linked here) that speaks so much to experiences I’ve had, and it demonstrates the faithfulness of God. Just look at the verses below:
“I have seen a lot of things, and I’ve been a lot of places. I’ve seen people come and go. I’ve been through a lot of changes. One thing I can always say, You’ve been here every step of the way. I have heard a lot said and sometimes believed the wrong things. I’ve made choices I regret, and I’ve doubted Your mercy. One thing I can always say, You’ve been here every step of the way. After all these years, You’re still good to me.”
After everything I’ve been through, God is still with me. After the things we’ve all endured these past few years, God is still present with us. When we remind ourselves of how good He is every day, we can maintain a spirit of praise and thanksgiving even through hard times.
The circumstances in your life may seem to grow worse or more complicated year after year, but hold to the promises in His Word. He will never leave us, He will never fail, He works all things for our good, His promises are “yes” and “amen,” He will provide for all our needs, and His mercies are new every morning.
Recently, I came to understand the significance of persevering in prayer when God fulfilled a great need in my life. And with it, He increased my faith and gave me a testimony that I hope will bless and encourage whoever who reads it.
Lately, I’ve been singing the song “Jireh” a lot, but it has taken on new meaning for me ever since August 23rd. On that Monday, God blessed me with the full-time job I’d been praying about for over a year.
You see, I graduated college in May of 2020 and still had not found a full-time job. God blessed me with a part-time job as an online writing tutor last summer, and in the meantime, I had applied for hundreds of jobs in writing, editing, teaching, marketing, communications, clerical work, and the like.
Until about spring of this year, I never had a call back. Zilch. Nada. Nothing but rejection emails. I desperately needed a job.
As a diabetic still on my mother’s insurance and who will soon turn 26, my mind kept going to worst-case scenarios in which I wouldn’t be able to afford insulin and would end up back in the hospital. I went through cycle after cycle of applying for a round of jobs, believing God would open the door, hearing nothing back, getting discouraged, and taking a week or two off of applying until the pang of fear motivated me to search and apply for more jobs.
2021 came, and I set a deadline. God would bless me with a job by June. Come late spring, promising opportunities started to arise. I got calls back and emails that said employers were interested. Come summer, I started getting interviews. Still, nothing worked out.
Then, I landed an interview for my dream job as an editor for a Christian company. I was the only candidate, so I was SURE this was the job God had for me. The interview went very well. The lady and I talked for an hour. I knew I could handle every job responsibility we discussed. She seemed very pleased. The following Wednesday, I received the rejection email:
“Thank you for your interest. Mrs. __ is declining to extend an offer at this time, but she wishes you the very best.”
How thoughtful of her.
I would be lying if I said I wasn’t crushed. The news hit me harder than I expected. The following day, I hardly left my bed.
What was I going to do? Where else could I apply? I’d tried everything else. All I could think was, God, help.
I sought counsel from trusted spiritual leaders, and when God helped me get back up again, I applied for more jobs the following week.
The deadline to enroll in private insurance was getting closer. I needed a job right away, not in a couple of months, not by the end of the year. NOW. Unfortunately, my options were limited. It may sound picky to say, but I knew I wasn’t cut out to work in a customer-based role, and the thought of working a job that had nothing to do with my degree and that I wouldn’t be able to use my skills in nearly defeated me.
I knew what I’d prayed for so many times.
God, I need a full-time job with good pay, that I can use the skills I have in, and that will give me good insurance so I can keep my doctor.
I’d prayed that prayer since the beginning, and after all my worrying by the end of the day, I knew that God knew exactly what I needed. And He would supply. Somehow.
My sister put me onto an opening at an insurance company where she works. An associate underwriter job. I looked over the job description. Not exactly related to my degree, but unexpectedly, the description of the role and duties fit my experience as a writing tutor perfectly. Put very simply, I’d be working from a queue and reviewing documents for changes and accuracy. Nothing I wasn’t familiar with as a remote essay-writing tutor. My sister also checked the available doctors through the insurance the company offered and found all of my doctors were in-network, which was very important to me.
In that moment, I thought about my specific prayer for God to provide me with a job that would allow me to utilize the skills and experience I had and that would provide me with good insurance. Then, I applied. After a day or so, a recruiter contacted me to begin the process of interviewing me.
Take these tests. Set up a phone interview. Set up a video interview. Video interview went well. Oh, but you won’t hear from us for at least a couple of weeks while we interview others.
Great. And here I’d been praying that they’d call me the next day to hire me.
A week went by. The insurance deadline passed. All the while, I kept seeing posts on social media about a 12th hour miracle and that God was about to open doors for someone.
So, I claimed it and did everything I could to squelch fear.
God will provide, whether it’s with this job or another. He knows what I need, I kept reminding myself.
Sunday, August 22nd. I heard a minister in my church talk about speaking in faith in pre-service prayer. He told the story of a man who needed a job and prayed for one in a Sunday service. After the service, a woman came up to the man, offering him a job.
I wish that would happen to me, I thought.
That night, I prayed again in faith that the company would call me the next day to offer me the job. On Monday, I was out with my mother at Walmart when they called me.
Oh, no. This is it.
Worried, I let it go to voicemail.
Whatif it’s a rejection call? What if they just want another interview?
I’d been through so many interviews, I could hardly stand the stress of going through another.
I got home and called back right away, and the hiring manager said the words I’d been praying to hear for a long time:
“I’ve got an offer for you.”
I sat down on my bed and just listened as she detailed the job. Though I wouldn’t have expected it, it was exactly what I had prayed for all along.
You see, even though there were many moments when I worried, doubted, and even feared that God might not fulfill my need on time, I did not quit praying for my miracle. As a wonderful mentor reminded me during a low point, we have to pray past our nothing—that moment when you’ve prayed until your body is limp, and yet nothing seems to change.
God is faithful. God will provide for you. He knows your needs, and He will never fail you. He knows your desires and wants to bless you with them if you will first delight in Him.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by feelings of disappointment in the waiting, but don’t let your emotions make you forget God’s neverending love for you. As a father loves to see the light in his child’s eyes when that child opens up gifts at Christmas, so does our Heavenly Father love to bless us with good desires that bring us joy.
David described an example of God’s endless love for us and of His goodness in Psalms:
“Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart. Commit thy way unto the LORD; trust also in him; and he shall bring it to pass.”
Psalms 37:3-5 (KJV)
David also said several verses later that, “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread” (Psalms 37:25, KJV).
If we are ever going to see a victory, we cannot give up in the waiting. Continue to pray. Don’t underestimate the power behind speaking in faith and declaring your victory in the Name of Jesus. Live for God according to His Word and Will and walk forward in righteousness.
He fights our battles for us and wins the victory. All we have to do is praise Him for it in advance. Our Jehovah Jireh is enough.
He has never failed me and never will. My God came through for me, and I know He will do it for you.
Due to some issues with scheduling, I am postponing today’s blog post until tomorrow evening.
Tuesday’s blog post will come out on schedule.
However, there will be no Friday blog post next week as I’ll be at the Missouri District Youth Convention in St. Charles, Missouri, with my church’s youth group. If you haven’t already, be sure to check out my Instagram here for additional Breathe Pray Repeat content, modest fashion, and some updates while I’m at Youth Convention next week.
One quick thought for today: things don’t always go according to plan. In fact, they often never do. As I was talking with God earlier today, in a moment of frustration, I mentioned that it’s difficult being a little human down here on earth with no knowledge of what might happen tomorrow. It’s hard not knowing. But I felt the Holy Ghost remind me that that is, of course, why I have Jesus, why I need Jesus.
His ways are higher, and the more life doesn’t go the way I want it to, the more He reminds me how much I need Him, how much closer to Him I need to be, and how much more I need to trust that He has everything under control.
When we surrender to Jesus, He gives us peace and assurance that even though our situation may seem impossible, He has a plan so that it will work out for our good according to His perfect will.
That’s a question we often ask ourselves when life seems more uncertain than usual.
Bills pile up. We’re saving for trips, home maintenance, or a new home or car. We’ve got work and school responsibilities, or we’re in need of a job or financial blessing. It seems we often waste our days away in nervous expectancy for what won’t or could happen. But that’s not what God wants for us.
Anxiety can absolutely consume our thoughts and affect our physical health. I sometimes get more stressed just thinking about stress, and then I try to put away all those things causing me anxiety, which causes me more stress because I know they’re still out there.
For those who struggle with anxiety, overcoming our worries often involves a process of reminding ourselves throughout each day that God knows what we’re going through and has a plan for us. He is our Provider and Comfort.
If you’re battling anxiety, here are 3 passages of scripture to study and speak over your fears so that the Lord can calm the troubled thoughts within your busy mind and speak peace over the storm in your life:
(8) I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. (9) Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding: whose mouth must be held in with bit and bridle, lest they come near unto thee. (10) Many sorrows shall be to the wicked: but he that trusteth in the LORD, mercy shall compass him about. ~Psalms 32:8-10 (KJV)
(3) Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee. (4) Trust ye in the LORD for ever: for in the LORD JEHOVAH is everlasting strength: ~Isaiah 26:3-4 (KJV)
(6) Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. (7) And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. ~Philippians 4:6-7 (KJV)
Our God has a plan for each of us. He is faithful, and He never fails.
No matter what you’re facing, rest assured that He is right there with you.
So, I have this need. A time-sensitive need. It’s one of those needs that you try not to worry about too much, but as the days go by and nothing changes, you start to worry a lot.
“God,” I say, “I have this need. Now, You know I have this need, and I know You know that, so if You could maybe speed up Your need-fulfilling machine and meet this need ASAP, that would take a load off my mind. We’re dealing with a time-sensitive issue here, and the funny thing about time is that it’s always running out. Right, God? God? Is this thing on?”
I scratch my head and wring my hands and ramble on and on until all I can think about for the next hour and day and week is that one need that keeps coming closer to its deadline.
And then I read Matthew chapter 6, and I realize God is speaking to me:
(30) “Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? (31) Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (32) (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. (33) But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
From these verses, God reminds me, and us, that we need not allow worry over our needs to consume our thoughts. Sometimes, we prioritize our cares on earth over Kingdom concerns too much.
What should we do?
We should seek first the Kingdom of God and trust that God will meet our needs. My Apostolic Study Bible explains it as actively pursuing the Kingdom while passively expecting the meeting of our needs.
Indeed, Matthew 6 says it perfectly as well. If God takes care of His creation, then how much more will He care for His children? For He knows our needs. And so we should not busy ourselves with overloaded concern for our own selves. Rather, we should busy ourselves with His Kingdom.
Prioritizing trust in Him breeds more trust in Him and the assurance that God will take care of us no matter what life throws our way.
I may still have a need, as do we all, but I also have the promise that my Savior who knows my need is working on my behalf and will come through for me at precisely the right moment.
If we are faithful to Him, then He will provide for all our needs in this life, for the righteous are not forsaken.
At the end of a year, I always find myself reflecting on how I may have changed over the past twelve months and the overarching lesson I may have learned. In 2019, I was anxious for the year to end. 2019 didn’t see my personal life growing the way I had hoped it would. My family endured emotional struggles, and it was largely an uneventful year. At the beginning of 2020, I was hopeful. In an early Facebook post, I wrote that I was “claiming 2020 as a year of growth, positive change, restoration, fulfillment, and joy.”
Well, January passed, and I still wasn’t happy in my personal life. I was in my final semester at Missouri State University and longed for it to be over so my life could finally start. February passed, and March came, and the pandemic began to rear its ugly head. College moved completely online.
Online classes were an easy transition for me. I’d taken at least two online classes every semester since my second in college, and I loved online learning. I didn’t have a job, and therefore, staying at home 98% of the time as opposed to 90% of the time hardly changed my life at all. Online church was a big adjustment for my family and church, but we held onto the fact that we knew we’d all be back together again, and several weeks later, we were.
During the first few months of the pandemic, my personal problems and plans took a backseat to adjusting to our new schedule and growing concern over the state of the country. I’d expected to have a full-time job by the time I’d graduated, but very few places in my local area wanted to hire new employees during a pandemic. It appeared this year would not be the year I had dreamed it would be. How could I grow when there were no opportunities to go places and experience the next phase of my adult life? How could there be any positive change amidst a pandemic? How could I find restoration when more things in my life were taken away? How could I find fulfillment and joy when there was distraction, frustration, and turmoil in my life and all around me?
The summer passed, and God blessed me with a part-time online position as a writing tutor, and though it wasn’t what I had hoped it would be, 2020 began to change me for the better.
After a series of sermons and messages during which God spoke into my life, I decided to cut distractions out of my life and give God complete control over my desires and plans. In the lowest moment of my life when I despaired over whether I would truly be able to connect with God the way I needed to for a miracle to happen in my life, God spoke to me about pouring out my entire being to Him and serving Him with everything, even if I didn’t think it amounted to very much.
So, I started this blog, stepping far out of my comfort zone, to use for Him the passion He gave me for writing. And after several weeks of studying His Word more, praying more fervently, and seeking Him more, I’ve become closer to Him and closer to the person He wants me to be. Lord knows (and my family knows), I am lightyears away from being that best version of myself, but I am closer than I was when 2020 started.
I prayed for growth, and I got it.
I now run two websites and a blog on two social media sites, and God blessed me with publication of a short story of mine over the summer.
I asked for positive change, and I got it.
2019 me had become less than pleased with my personal life and where I was in my life. I wanted to be as happy and content as I had been so long ago before I allowed college and spiritual struggles to drain me and weaken my joy. So, I prayed for restoration, fulfillment, and joy.
2020 me found restoration, fulfillment, and joy in my relationship with God alone. It took years of suffering and a pandemic to stir my soul and move me to action, but I decided not to allow my pain to control my life anymore.
God gave me everything I had asked for in 2020. None of it looked like what I had thought it would, but He didn’t fail me, and He never will.
What’s the takeaway I learned from this year?
Speak life, not death over your situation. Words have power.
Pray in faith. The storm may still be brewing, but our peace is in God, and He is the Miracle-Worker.
Believe in God. Whatever His Promises are for you, they will come to pass.
Look up. Look up to Jesus where our help comes from, and look up to Heaven, our eternal home, because He is coming back soon.
I struggled as we all have in various ways this year, but I became a different person than I was in January 2020. I grew, changed for the better, was restored in my soul, and became fulfilled and filled with the joy of the Lord. I still have a long way to go, but 2020 taught me to never give up and never go back to the way I used to be.
Only God knows what 2021 may bring us, but no matter what may come, my prayer is that we will see the promises of God become manifested in our lives and that we will become the strong, faithful fighters for truth and humble servants of God that He wants us to be.
So, speak life. Pray in faith. Believe in God. Look up.