Nighttime was the hardest when my husband left. During the day, work, church, and mom stuff distracted me from my harsh reality, but when the sun went down, so did my hope. Despair seeped in like smoke and choked my peace. The empty space next to me in bed felt like a grave, and, in some ways, I guess it was. My marriage was dead, and, many nights, I wished I was, too. I felt like Job on his ash heap. “When I lie down I think, ‘How long before I get up?’ The night drags on, and I toss and turn until dawn” (Job 7:4).
After weeks of waking up exhausted from carrying the weight of the world in my dreams, I sensed God’s gentle nudging. What’s right about your life, Lee? Count your gratefuls, and find my peace.
Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. (I Thessalonians 5:17-18)
That night, I started muttering my thanks to God for anything that came to mind. I thanked Him for my sweet pup snuggled up against my hip. I thanked Him for Sonic Diet Cokes with lemon. I thanked Him for toilet paper and air conditioning. For a sale on shampoo just when my stash ran low. For that call from a friend at just the right moment. For light traffic on the way to work. I thanked Him for my sons and how I’m still their momma even if I’m not their daddy’s wife.
Once I got started, the stream of thanksgiving flowed, smooth and easy, into peaceful sleep.
In peace, I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety. (Psalm 4:8)
When my alarm chirped, I climbed out of bed with a better mindset. Less dread. Less worry. Less despair. More gratitude.
That verse about joy coming in the morning began to feel true to me (Psalm 30:5). Though I continued to struggle with feelings of dread and despair, I no longer wallowed in them. I began to understand my hope was secure because it was built on Christ, the One who never leaves me nor forsakes me.
Closing my day with thanksgiving didn’t fix my problems, but it helped me fix my eyes on Jesus.
And the more I fixed my eyes on Jesus, “the author and perfecter of faith,” the more He could bring me to a wholeness I had never known (Hebrews 12:2). A wholeness that defied my broken circumstances.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs it all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is unseen is eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18)
Are nights hard for you, friend? Do you wake up worn out from your worries and heartache? Maybe you’re going through an unwanted divorce like I did. Maybe your child is running from God. Maybe someone you love is battling cancer. Maybe your husband is deployed.
Whatever is stealing your peace, counting your gratefuls will help you take it back.