While reading my Bible this morning, I had every intention to get through all four passages that are assigned to the reading plan that I’m using. I’ve had a strong start in the new year and wanted to continue with it today during one of Quinna’s naps. My pen was ready to put that checkmark next to all four passages, probably regardless of whether I had internalized them or not. Unfortunately, and fortunately, the Holy Spirit only allowed me to get through the first two VERSES of the first passage that I read, and all of my time and journaling were spent there because I was utterly wrecked by them. Here they are, and you may wonder why I found them so challenging.
“I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will recount all of your wonderful deeds. I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.” – Psalm 9:1-2
These seemingly mild words flashed emergency sirens off the page at me because I know that I don’t give thanks to my “whole” heart. If I were to do so, I would have to both make the physical time for such thanksgiving and also claim back some space in my heart for thanksgiving that is currently being occupied by fear or worry or disenchantment or discouragement or busyness. “I will recount all of your wonderful deeds” is the line that struck me next. His deeds, being innumerable, would require great time to recount—am I willing to give up some of my precious time to make this more of a reality in my life? I tried to count the times in the past week that I have recounted his deeds to my loved ones, even just aloud to my baby when we’re home alone. Though there were a few instances that I could recall in the past week, it didn’t feel like quite enough. I wondered what it would be like to have graphs like the ones that my phone updates me with for my screen time usage. Would it be possible to increase my thanksgiving and my recounting of his deeds by a few more hours next week?
This post is supposed to be about joy, and I’m getting there- I promise. Verse 2 gave some further conviction, but with it also came some encouragement. “I will be glad and exult in you, I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.” On the one hand, I’m convicted–am I really glad and exulting in Him? On the other, I’m encouraged that this line falls after verse 1, almost as if to say that BY giving thanks and recounting his wonderful deeds I WILL be glad–that one results in the other. You and I know that this is true. We’ve seen it happen in our lives that an “attitude of gratitude” brings joy. The Lord commands it all throughout Scripture. Why do I so easily forget? Why don’t I realize that in the days I have the least time for thanksgiving or recounting his deeds, I need to spend all the more time in those pursuits?
Here are some ways that I have thought I might bring up my thanksgiving and recounting numbers, and I encourage you to try them too if the Lord speaks to you through any or all:
- Leaving a legal pad or notebook open on the kitchen counter and writing down a bit of thankfulness as I’m cooking, or heating up a bottle, or calling my credit card that’s been compromised again, or waiting for the tea kettle to boil. There is thankfulness to be had in the mundane moments and I’m hoping the open notebook will remind me, as well as be a log of thankfulness for the past week. What if I filled a page or more in a week?
- Actually writing on our calendar that hangs on the wall each year–little tidbits of thankfulness, even just a word or two.
- Incorporating thankfulness as part of mealtime routines — If alone, spending time in thankfulness and recounting rather than scrolling through my phone. It reminds me that I’m never truly alone if I talk to Him when I am. If with others, intentionally asking in conversation at each dinner “What did the Lord do today?”
- Asking a friend to help me refocus my attention on thankfulness, particularly around topics that we talk about a lot and can lead to negativity — a stressful job, frustrating people, etc. I want to be known as a friend who is drawn to thankfulness herself and also draws others to the same.
- Singing songs to my baby about thankfulness and explaining what it means, how we do it, and why we do it. I learned SO MUCH while I was a teacher, and most that came at having to figure out how to explain it to those younger than me. Could you do this with a child, grandchild, other children you interact with?
What’s the end result of this? Gladness. Joy. Only a posture of thankfulness and recounting his wonderful deeds can get us there, and only by His Spirit can we assume that posture. Lord, please help us!
“You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.” Psalm 4:7
Mary Moore Rabb is an artist and educator. She’s a wife to her husband McLean, a priest serving at Trinity Anglican in Lago Vista, Texas. Mary Moore and McLean welcomed their daughter Quinna in 2019.