Thursday, 16 February 2012

A Heart Of Gratitude And Joy

"I cried to thee, and thou has healed me." (Psalm 30, 2).

The 30 Day Growing In Gratitude Challenge that I am working through, is proving to be so very thought provoking - it's making me look at my day-to-day relationship with God through new eyes, and start to understand how greatly He moves in my life - and comforting, because in realising this, and accepting it, I can find assurance in knowing that whatever each day may bring, it is all part of His plan for me, and my family. The Revive Our Hearts ministry has many different challenges online that are simple to take part in - just download the PDF for the 30 day challenge you wish to take part in, and read each day's entry with your Bible. They are so useful for prompting further study and prayer, and Papa Bear has been joining me in some of the day's challenges this month, so they don't need to be done in isolation, but could even be used as a starting point for a couples' devotion.

Each day so far in this challenge has used as its theme a different passage from one of the books of the New Testament, in particular, the book of Psalms, and today's challenge focuses on Psalm 30. There's one verse in this Psalm that really stands out in its simplicity, and that's verse 2, quoted above. How glorious God is! All we have to do is cry out to Him, and He will come to us and shoulder our burdens for us. He will lift us from the depths of despair, strengthen us, deepening our love for Him, even in our days of deepest trouble. Papa Bear and I have known some difficult times, these past years and particularly in the 12 months just past. February has been a bittersweet month for us so far as it has brought with it a painful anniversary, as well as the lovely celebration of our love that we had on St. Valentine's Day. Illness and loss have figured greatly in our lives, and there have been many times when I have had to call on our Father God during our marriage to carry me through these challenges. Sometimes it has been hard to see what God's plan has been for us, when life has been a terrible struggle. And when we have felt really burdened by our troubles, it has been possible even at times, to wonder whether He is hearing our prayers. But we can be truely assured that He is!

Today's challenge encourages us to do two things, which will fortify us greatly in our times of trouble. The first, and one which I know I must work on hard, is to memorize passages of scripture. Doing this creates a treasure chest within our hearts of the Lord's word, which we can draw on whenever we are challenged by the struggles and hardships that life brings us. Precious jewels of wisdom and encouragement, that will nurture us and bring us peace in times of tempest. Now I am very good at looking up and writing down passages of scripture, but not so good at learning them! Today, Papa Bear and I resolved that we would try to learn a new passage of scripture each week. It may not sound like very much, but after a year, that will be 52 different passages! We will start with the very passage I have quoted at the top of this post! It will help us, when we are faced with new challenges, to turn to these words of comfort, knowing that no matter how despairing we may feel, God DOES hear our prayers, and answers them - and works in incredible ways that are beyond our own, limited, human understanding. All we must do, is be with peace that His Holy Spirit is working within us, and know that everything, even the challenges and difficult times, are part of His wonderful plan for our lives.

The second suggestion that Nancy Leigh DeMoss gives in today's challenge, is to sing praise to our Father God! Well that is something we are VERY good at, in our home! Nothing makes me smile more than to pass by one of the bedrooms and hear either Little Bear or Cubby (or most often, both), playing their guitars and singing praise music! It is a beautiful sound to hear. I wouldn't say we were a musical family, but both the cubs play a variety of instruments, and Papa Bear has the most beautiful singing voice I have ever heard. People have even asked him if he sings professionally! But he is very shy about his lovely voice and only sings alone in private, to me! Aren't I lucky! But we certainly have no trouble in fulfilling this part of the challenge. Up above at the top of the post there, you will find yet another of our favourite praise songs. This one almost always makes me cry when I hear it - which it has today. We hardly ever sing this at Church, but I love it and always sing along whenever I hear it! Somehow it is poignant and uplifting, both at the same time.

I haven't forgotten that I must post up some recipes of the meals we have eaten this week. Sometimes it's easy to forget the small things that God does so wonderfully for us. The big things, yes. But the small things we must be grateful for too, and this week I've been very grateful to Him for giving me both the means and the skill to create some really wonderful meals for our family. Nothing complicated or expensive - just very tasty! So I will be sharing - but not just now! Papa Bear is waiting patiently at my side so that I can give him all my attention and help to choose a DVD for us to watch this evening - so I must go!