The end of the school year was so busy that I couldn’t wait for relaxing summer break. No getting the kids up for school. No projects or homework or tests. Slow. Relaxed. Lazy dog days of summer and all that.
Well……I’m still waiting. Seems like summer didn’t slow down one iota. Not one. (What is an iota anyway?)
And when things get busy, stress can settle in and then the tendency is to only see the negative. Just see what’s wrong with the house or the car or the kids. All we can see is what we don’t have and what’s not done.
My daughter and I were out and about, picking up last minute things for camp and some snacks for the guys to take on their fishing trip to Canada. We had a budget and I stuck to it, but we picked up quite a few things.
We were driving out of the Sam’s Club parking lot, and we looked over on the grass and there sat a man and a dog. He looked pretty dirty and all he had with him were a few things tied up in a blanket.
My daughter looked at him and looked at me and asked, “Is he homeless?”
I couldn’t be positive, but it sure looked that way to me.
We got up the road a little bit, turned onto the highway, and then I heard it. Sobs. Heart-wrenching sobs. She had tears streaming down her face and her shoulders were heaving as she cried.
“We have so much. We just went in that store and bought whatever we wanted and didn’t even have to think about it. And he has nothing. Mom, he doesn’t have ANYTHING!”
Well, at that point I was crying too! And I had three thoughts:
- I’m thankful that she doesn’t know that we do have to think about it. We do have to budget and plan and save and sometimes cut things off the list. But she has no idea. Thank God she gets to be a kid.
- We are so blessed. Our house isn’t huge and we don’t have the latest and greatest of much – but we are blessed.
- I was so thankful that she noticed. She realized the difference. She was touched and moved with compassion. She was grateful for what she has and realized at that moment just how blessed she is. (With teenagers, that’s not always a given. It’s a struggle sometimes. A battle to combat the materialism so rampant in our culture.) I was so thankful!
So we prayed for him, which didn’t feel like enough, but at least it was something. I actually drove by the next day running errands and looked for him to see if we could bless him with food too, but he wasn’t there.
Then we had a conversation about the faithfulness of God and just how blessed we are.
And today, I read Psalm 136.
Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good!
His faithful love endures forever. (Psalm 136:1)
It’s the Psalm that declares for 26 verses the miracles God did for Israel. Each verse ends with, “His faithful love endures forever.”
I’ll be honest. Sometimes when I read this Psalm, I skip over the His faithful love endures forever part towards the end. It can get monotonous. I get it. I get it. His faithful love endures forever.
But as I was reading it this morning, I was reminded of Alli and her response to the homeless man and I read it out loud. Slowly. I let it stir my heart.
His faithful love endures forever.
Do you know what? Today it didn’t get monotonous at all. What it did was stir and energize my faith. His faithful love DOES endure forever.
And once I got to the end of verse 26, I added my own verses. I remembered the miracles God’s done in my own life.
How He faithfully provided for me through Bible School. His faithful love endures forever.
He provided for me to go on a mission trip to Africa after I graduated. His faithful love endures forever.
We have a home in a safe neighborhood. His faithful love endures forever.
We all have a bed to sleep in. His faithful love endures forever.
We have food in our cupboards. His faithful love endures forever.
We have cars that run. His faithful love endures forever.
We have jobs. His faithful love endures forever.
He healed my daughter of seizures and she hasn’t had one in 8+ years. His faithful love endures forever.
He protected my husband’s life in April and he’s still with us today. His faithful love endures forever.
I have three healthy and strong teenagers. His faithful love endures forever.
And it went on and on and on until I was practically shouting His praises on my porch swing at 6:00 this morning, which I’m not sure my neighbors appreciated, but my heart was so full to overflowing.
Praise didn’t change what I don’t have or what’s not done yet, but it sure changed my perspective and my outlook. It reminded me how truly blessed I am. It brought peace and lightened my load.
It changed my whole atmosphere.
Are there things we still need? Ummm…yes. And it’s so easy to put the focus there. Easy – but not beneficial. I’m so thankful for that reminder today.
Now all I see everywhere I look are the beautiful blessings of God. I see His faithfulness in my history and in my future. Oh the peace and joy it brings!
I dare you. Give it a try. Go read Psalm 136 out loud and add your own verses at the end and see how it changes your atmosphere.