I was recently reading through my old journals, comparing what was going on in my life two or more years ago with what I am doing now. I have to laugh at my past self and the things she worried and journaled about! I thought while reading through the late-night ramblings, heartfelt prayers, and vented frustrations, God was so patient with me in those seasons! I was so temperamental, and untrusting, and disobedient at times. I often didn’t trust and rely on Him, and grew angry or indifferent when I couldn’t see Him working. But like the ever-loving Heavenly Father He is, God provided for me then, and He has provided for me now.

The last year has been quite pivotal for me personally and spiritually. Looking back, I see how the challenging seasons I went through strengthened and prepared me for this year. If it had not been for the hard experiences making the soil of my heart ready, I would not have been able to grow as I have. I can see now how God was and is working in my life and in my heart, and I am filled with awe and gratitude. He is faithful in great things, and in small; He provides for me in all situations, and He blesses me abundantly.

This became even more clear to me this last week. It was one one those long, busy weeks so full with movement that it bleeds into the weekend, until before I knew it, it was Monday again. I was feeling so expended Tuesday that it felt like Friday. Wednesday came, and I was ready for the end of the week. It was going to be a particularly long workday, and I mentally prepared myself praying for my strength to hold out.

Then God showed up in a very real way to me: He not only gave me enough energy to make it through the day, He provided me with clarity of thought and peace and joy of heart. The day was long and physically exhausting as I anticipated, but God was my Strength and my Fortress and my Rock through it, and He proved Himself faithful to me.

I drove home that night singing off-key praise songs, thankful that my workweek was done and short because of Thanksgiving. Looking back at how God showed up in such a practical but profound way, I realized that hard work and having to push through that day is what allowed me to feel the joy I felt.

God hadn’t just ‘given me joy and peace’, and I didn’t feel it despite being exhausted- it was actually through my exhaustion, and my effort to do my best despite feeling exhausted, that joy came. Romans 5:3-5: “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” Although my ‘suffering’ was really quite minimal, it is what brought me to such a satisfied and thankful state of heart.

No matter what season you are in right now, center your heart and mind on God’s faithfulness and how He has provided. Look for the ways He has been gracious in small (and big) ways. Find anything you can to sing about, and make a joyful noise!

“Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth!
Serve the LORD with gladness!
Come into his presence with singing!
Know that the LORD, he is God!
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
and his courts with praise!
Give thanks to him; bless his name!
For the LORD is good; his steadfast love endures forever,
and his faithfulness to all generations.”
(Psalm 100 ESV)

May our hearts be filled to the utmost with praises and thanksgiving to our Lord, our King, and our Provider, in this season and the ones to come.