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When life is not as we think it should be, it is so easy to focus on what we do not have rather than the blessings God has poured out on us. When we are constantly thinking about what we lack we start to become bitter and grumpy and generally have a bad attitude.
I know this from experience! Back when we were stuffed in our itty bitty home I would spend my free minutes looking at my favorite real estate app, daydreaming about the house I wanted. This was not fruitful because not being able to actually buy a new house caused me to be discontent and grumpy to my family. When I realized this poor attitude and its origin, I had to make the decision to put aside this app and stop dwelling on what I didn’t have and start dwelling on God.
Start a Blessing Book
One thing I have learned about negative thoughts is that they must be replaced with God-honoring thoughts otherwise they will just come back. So, in response to a timely sermon from my pastor, I began a blessings book — A journal where I wrote the blessings that I currently had in the midst of it all. Honestly, it was hard to start — I didn’t feel blessed. So I copied Psalm 103:1-5 in the front to remind me.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.
Then I began listing my blessings — my children, my husband, my church family. After awhile, it became easier and easier to notice the blessings. I noted times that God provided for us; our house was warm and dry, and my family was healthy. I even noted the need for a costly car repair and having the funds to accomplish it. Recording the blessings God had poured out on us became a way to focus on what I did have instead of what I didn’t.
Read a good book on the character of God
Soon after beginning the blessing book, I began reading a study by Elizabeth George called Powerful Promises for every Woman — 12 Life-Changing Truths from Psalm 23. I was reminded how the Father cares for me and provides for me, even in the rocky places. Through this study I was able to see even more the everyday blessings and ways that God provides for me.
I also began reading some biographies on men and women who lived for the glory of God. George Mueller, Franny Crosby, Esther Ahn Kim, and Jim Elliot just to name a few. Among many lessons, one thing the lives of these ordinary men and women taught me was perspective. My measly “sufferings” didn’t compare with what they sacrificed for the name of Christ.
On my current list of books to read are these books recommended by my pastor. If you want to learn more about God and His character — these would be a good place to start. From my understanding this list is in order of easiness to read to more difficult.
- Holiness – J.C. Ryle
- Holiness of God – R.C. Sproul
- The Gospel According to Jesus – John MacArthur
- Practical Religion – J.C. Ryle
When we dwell on who God is and the great ways He has provided for us, then we are not dwelling on the negatives. We can know that God will provide for all our needs in His perfect timing and we can rest in this knowledge.
My soul waits in silence for God only; from Him is my salvation. He only is my rock and my salvation, My stronghold; I shall not be greatly shaken. Psalm 62:1-2