I watch. I wait. I wonder. Some call it courage. Some call it foolish. I call it faith.
Over a decade ago, I wrote an article called, “Join Me on Our God Watch.” I invited blogging friends to join our family as we entered another “God Watch” period in our lives — my husband’s unemployment. Years ago, I coined that phrase for our children as a game of sorts. During our first extended season of financial insecurity, it was an intentional way of watching and waiting to see how the Lord would unexpectedly amaze us during a particularly difficult circumstance. Every day around the dinner table, we’d ask the kids how they witnessed God working in their life or in someone else’s.
All these years later, it’s still a family mantra. Our God Watch is a reminder to gaze at His goodness, to rest in His reassurances. But more importantly, it’s a whisper of willingness to choose joy in the midst of doubt — to live it and seek out His goodness when we feel it the least.
I chuckle as I re-read that post. Heartfelt was the God Watch invitation, but at the end I retorted, “Remind me of this in six months if we’re still unemployed, deal?” I never assumed I would need to revisit that tongue-in-cheek comment as we wrestled through an additional year of unemployment — another year of wondering how we’d pay our bills and hustling odd jobs to make ends meet. A year of attempting to model for our five children that while being in the throes of uncertainty, we stand as a steadfast gospel witness to all His things beautiful, good, and true. Throughout that season, we let them ask hard questions. We welcomed and walked with them through their doubts. When people looked at our faith and called us foolish, we believed wholeheartedly that He meant all things for our good even when we didn’t feel its evidence immediately.
This week I’ve gone down memory lane and read my “God Watch” journals to reinvigorate my spirit by His notable marks of remembrance in my life. I thought I needed that reminder in 2020, but 2021 has brought with it a whole host of new tensions.
Many of us have lost so much. We’ve lost jobs, loved ones, homes, savings. Some lost things less tangible but that have left us lonely and disillusioned. Maybe it’s the loss of goals and dreams, loss of community, friendships, or even church homes due to division. Amidst my personal wrestling, the Lord is allowing me to be a safe space for others to share these losses, but my typical Pollyanna personality is struggling. Do any of you feel like you’ve lost some of your optimism and fun? No? Just me?
That’s why I stopped in my tracks from a specific journal entry. Don’t you love how He often uses our past experiences to preach to our own heart when we need it most?
Satan would love nothing more than to take me down the winding road of regret and woo me into a long, whiny discussion. The kind of back-and-forth conversation that takes place in my mind — ideas primed as dagger-like darts, feelings that mull around in misery, yet with no audible words ever leaving the mouth. Oh yes, those have been some of my more lively discussions.
But, today, His faithfulness reminds me that I have the choice to punctuate my life with praise.
Praise for His security during times of uncertainty. Praise for the little things since they are reminders of the big things. Like the way the stars twinkle so much brighter snuggling on a blanket with my husband and children. Or the way my teen age son guzzles the soda straight from the two-liter as I type. No sky-rocketing mommy annoyance now. I am so thankful he’s journeying with us, choosing to be “an untypical teen” during this learning transition. (FYI: Now that teen is married, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to see them chase after Jesus together, but I wish he was in our kitchen this second guzzling from the bottle. I miss it.)
How about when my favorite grocery store tripled their coupons the very week I needed to stockpile my favorite items or the “trash to treasure” finds that I uncovered at last weekend’s yard sale?
Ah yes . . . finding joy in things I had entirely missed before deepens my faith walk. It’s a reminder of how this extended “God Watch” season can grow us deeper, make us more intentional, and reveal to us the little blessings that are so often overlooked.
So here’s to finishing a year of no steady job, but I’m still testifying that He is good.
August 2021 Serious Jen needs that reminder from 2008 Jen.
As our summer starts winding down and uncertainty begins ramping up, let me testify again that no matter the circumstance, “He is the same yesterday, today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He is a God of faithfulness who fights for us, forever desiring our best, and a God who wants us to find Him in every season and every part of our lives.
Thank you Jennifer for this beautiful reminder!! I love that you committed yourself with your whole family!! I love that you call it your ” God watch” I call them God sightings! I to journal and love to go back and see what God has done for me through the hard stuff!!
I absolutely love that God is there through all of it!! Thanks for the reminder!!❤
I wish I’d been more diligent in my journaling because when I read circumstances from years earlier, it’s such a reminder of His faithfulness.
Ruth Mills says
I unintentionally hurt a family member in a text. While I spoke facts they were not necessary to be spoken & she misread my intent. This morning I read your fellow incourager’s post on when our words hurt rather than help. God arrowed that post straight to me. And a bonus of your post to see God’s goodness around us…there it is. God in the details. His goodness mercy & grace on full volume. Thank you for being a part of the goodness of God!
Aww Ruth – thank you for also showing God’s kindness and goodness to me with your comment. I love your phrase, “His goodness mercy & grace on full volume.” Yes, HE SURE IS!!! Love that reminder.
Michelle Stiffler says
I can so relate to the startling reality of a more serious self. Aging, writing about our faith wrestlings, loss, kids leaving the nest – won’t these tamp the enthusiasm? Shouldn’t they? God wants hope in its bubbling optimism form and its form of quiet constancy. He uses both for good. But yeah, Jen. I miss the effortless effervescence of my younger self. I know what I’ll be bringing to the Lord in prayer this week. Thank you.
Michelle – it sounds like we are twins on this journey of balancing that tension of our serious selves with finding the effortless effervescence of our young ones. Let’s bring back a little of the former. Are you with me? 🙂 xoxo
Michelle Stiffler says
Count me in!
Your words spoke to my heart and to our family’s current situations. Thank you for sharing this beautiful perspective. I’m on God Watch today.
Heidi – I will join you in praying for your God watch today. He has used that perspective so often in my life but it’s a struggle to see it out sometimes.
blessings on your day.
I love this, thank you.
You’re so welcome, Nancy.
What a beautiful devotional! I can’t tell you how often I have needed a reminder of His goodness in the past during my present struggles. Yet even without those reminders, God’s goodness shows up every day in the little things. Something as simple as realizing that I have enough rewards points at the grocery store to take $$ off of a purchase has made me realize that God’s goodness is always there!
Your last sentence – “realizing that I have enough rewards points at the grocery store to take $$ off of a purchase has made me realize that God’s goodness is always there!” speaks to the core of my love language. It’s so easy to lose sight of those simple ways He shows up when I’m so focused on my present challenging circumstance. So here’s to embracing those reward points and for me, the Buy one, get one free that also has the marked down stickers on them. 🙂 xoxoxo
Thank you, Jen! Facing another fall season of uncertainty and losses, you are reminding us to find God’s blessings in the hard. He is always here, cheering us on!
Whew. We’ve been without a job since last October (but because of the previous year we didn’t qualify for most of the pandemic relief money). My husband is so very disheartened. I am trying to hold on to my mustard seed faith (I’m convinced Jesus used the mustard seed because that’s all the faith I can muster on my own! Sorry, my family engages in corny puns…) but sometimes, like when the bills are piling up, another important thing breaks, another potential job turns out to just be a dangling carrot… it is difficult. Thank you for your words.
oh Melissa – Im instantly transported to the multiple times we’ve been in your position and know exactly the dangling carrot/mustard seed feeling. It’s hard to watch our husband go through the discouragement and those core lies that the enemy tries to whisper about doubting our truth worth (ie employment). Praying for you in the midst of these disheartening challenges and speaking as one ten year down the road, you will get through this with a story to tell (even though right now, it’s so very hard and that kind of encouragement doesn’t always help but know you are modeling so many kingdom building things in the midst of it..)
You know timing is everything. We just now got word that the job my daughter applied for and thought she had, is a no go. Since she has been unemployed since the end of February, this was a huge blow. Not only to her ego, as she would have been taking a pay cut, but to our budget. So just now reading this devotional was a huge reminder that God is still on His throne and we are not forgotten. His promises are new each day and we can depend on Him
Thank you for sharing. I know we are not alone in these circumstances and there are many that are suffering through tremendous loss, especially with the world in chaos and many tragic things ongoing , yet He still cares about everything that affects us. His Eye is on the Sparrow!!
Let us pray for one another and praise ourGod for His mercy and grace.
Nancy Ruegg says
I too have found hope and encouragement through keeping a God Watch journal since November of 1983, although mine is titled “God Is Faithful.” (I like your title better, Jen!) It’s a looseleaf notebook so I can keep adding to it. Thus far there are more than 1400 entries that relate God’s provision, protection, guidance, and more. A companion volume is a gratitude-for-the-small-things journal, begun much more recently, in March of 2017. Each day I write down just one or two “gifts,” so it doesn’t take much time. Both disciplines help to keep me positive and more closely connected to my Heavenly Father. P.S. Love your cleverly-worded reminder to “punctuate life with praise!” Think I might try a bit of art journaling with that statement!
Oh, I love this! I’m also going to start a ‘God is Faithful’ journal. There are so many times that we needed to be reminded of God’s goodness in our lives.
Thank you so much for your honesty!
Beth Williams says
These past few years have stripped the happy from my life. Feel like there is no joy anymore. It’s been hard-both hubby & I work in hospitals. To combat the “pessimistic pitty party” I have a praise God party. Listen to Southern Gospel music, sing loud & proud my praises to almighty God. Plus I keep a thankful journal. It contains over 200 items from Home in Heaven, Salvation, House, car, clothes & small things like sunshine, rain. Each of these helps keep me focused on God & His goodness. He is faithful, true & right there beside us in our trials.