I will never forget March 9th 2015.
I was off to an unusual start that cold morning, having accompanied my dad to a doctor’s appointment that led to hours in the waiting room for a 15 minute routine appointment. By the time we got back home close to noon, I contemplated skipping classes that day because I didn’t feel up to driving or taking public transportation. After talking myself out of taking a break that day, and potentially missing a pop quiz - I decided to drive to school.
After getting there and realizing there was no pop quiz, I decided to stay back on campus a bit longer to get more energized from the weariness I was feeling. I eventually dragged myself into the car and started my 25minute drive home. With little to no traffic I was blasting music in the car in an effort to stay awake at all cost and anticipating getting home to take a much needed nap.
Before I knew it I was 5 minutes from home, and was experiencing relief for having made it home safely without having to pull over on the highway to rest my weary eyes.
And then suddenly I hear myself coughing incessantly. In what seemed like a literal blink of an eye I saw smoke in front of me and my car was at a standstill. What I dreaded had happened - I had gotten into a car crash and totaled my car. Turns out that barely 2 minutes from home, I dozed off and rammed into a parked truck that released my airbag and it was the smoke from that release that choked me back to consciousness. As I stumbled out of my totalled car(with no broken bones and bruises), I saw a bus drive by - and it was then it hit me, that I could have crashed into a moving bus 10 times the size of my little Toyota Corolla.
That experience changed my life for good. And till date it still is my most dramatic run-in with death.
As traumatic as it was, it was one of many situations that encouraged me to more actively keep a record of God’s faithfulness to me. And so when much later on a sermon I heard referenced keeping a gratitude journal, it resonated deeply with me! The premise of the suggestion was that this journal would serve as an inventory of God's blessings and that having such an easily retrievable record will serve as an encouragement during challenging life seasons when we are quick to forget. And so although I hesitated to start because I was unsure I would keep up with it, I eventually did and it has deepened my sense of assurance of God’s keeping power.
The truth is that life can move along so quickly that we only momentarily acknowledge the undeserved favor you received from someone else, the near-accident that could've taken your life, or the experience of living with good health. Oh, and how about surviving a global pandemic that took the lives of over 3 million people around the world.
One of my favorite scriptures on cultivating a life of gratitude was written by Apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 5:18; where he reminds us to "give thanks in all circumstances..." He is clear here to say ALL and not some. In our journey, there'll be no doubt a mix of joyful and challenging times. During the joyful times of celebrations, we must pause and reflect on how God faithfully got us there and acknowledge it by praising him! Likewise in those difficult life seasons, He is the master-mind behind the scenes, weaving situations and working it all out for our good- so yes, even during the challenges, he is still deserving of our acknowledgement.
And so now on some evenings as I prepare for bed, I reach for my gratitude journal, and before writing in it I flip back 30 pages to read over some blessings I recorded from months ago. Other times, I reach out to it because I’m in need of some encouragement - and by the time I get done refreshing my memory on God’s faithfulness, not only am I feeling better, I also get the hope infusion I need to pray about my current challenges knowing that God will come through.
So friends, my encouragement to you is simple - it is one I constantly give myself - In every season of our lives, may we stay reminded of God’s goodness - and of the truth that as long as we have breath in our lungs, we can whisper thank you to our life-giver.