Pivotal moments often rush in like a storm, and as in any mystery or thriller, the moments feel tremendous. But sometimes they arrive just as tremendously through the steadiness of quiet repetition. Who knew that ending each day with thanks would be the pivot I needed? My last post on Reformed Margins (“Self-pity and the Betrayal of God”) came on December 1, 2016, at the near-end of a year wasted in habitual self-pity. Disgusted by the intoxication, I resolved to do something about it come the new year, and I did.
I did many things about my self-pity, one of which was being thankful. I converted a daily 2017 planner into a daily gratitude journal and ended each night recording a simple note of thanksgiving. And I kept at it all the year long through.
Some thanks were easy:
April 14th, Thankful for the day off from work.
Others were special:
April 16th, Thankful for [insert name], for the way she is growing in the Lord and bearing fruit.
December 21st, Thankful for real progress made towards reconciliation.
But the most blessed thanks came on nights like these:
May 6th, If I place my hope in man, I will die by its crushing weight. Tonight again I feel too keenly what it is to be forgotten and ignored, but I will not die by its weight. I will hope in the Lord and face the new day smiling. No one else may know, but the Lord does. This is my act of faith.
April 23rd, Thankful Christ always has the last word.
After a year of this spiritual discipline, I learned that my most meaningful thanks came from days long and weary, on evenings when I strained, even refused, to find the tangible grace in things. Because in such times, the Lord was gracious to remind me of the far greater worth of fixing my eyes on not what is seen but unseen (2 Cor 4:18), of “walk[ing] by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor 5:7). On nights that felt like loss, nights that tempted me to despair, I remembered “the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Phil 3:8), and this was enough for me.
It took 365 steady pivots in 2017 to trade in one habit for another, and this one, I hope, remains.