Look Back- Remember the Goodness and Grace of God

unsplash-logoAnnie Spratt

As this year comes to a close and a new one begins, I can’t help but wonder what adventures await us.  2017 has been a blur of busyness and blessings! Sometimes I get so caught up in the present, and excited about the future, that I forget to take the time to look back and remember the goodness and grace of God up to the present time.

It’s important to look back and praise God for his presence, power, provision, and people he’s placed in your life.  Look back at your prayer journal and see all of the answered prayers.  Look back at where you were last January, and where you are now.

How have you grown in your faith, character, and in ministry? What trials did the Lord bring you through? Who were you able to invest in and bring closer to Christ, or who helped you grow this year?

As you look back, remember to thank God for each and every answered prayer, and divinely appointed person who had an impact on your spiritual growth.  Praise him for his goodness and grace.

Psalm 107 is a song of remembrance of all God had done for the children of Israel.  It begins with: O give thanks unto the LORD, for he is good: for his mercy endureth for ever, and closes with: Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the LORD, with 41 verses in between recounting the story of God’s deliverance, chastening, provision, and character.

There are two sets of key verses that repeat themselves, and one key word, that I think we can learn from as we look back on 2017.

Four times we see:

  • Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them out of their distresses. (v.6)
  • Then they cried unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them out of their distresses. (v.13)
  • Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he saveth them out of their distresses. (v. 19)
  • Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. (v.28) (emphasis mine to show the slight difference in these very similar verses.)

and

  • Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! (v.8, 15, 21, 31)

(These four verses imply that the people were lacking in the area of thankful and grateful hearts. They took advantage of God’s goodness and were forgetful of his works.)

The key word is: Mercy

While it only appears as this English word one time in this psalm, the Hebrew word checed appears 6 times as:

  • mercy (v.1)
  • goodness- 4 times (vs.8, 15, 21,31)
  • lovingkindness (v.43)

Checed is goodness, kindness, faithfulness, favor, and mercy.  This psalm perfectly combines God’s character and his conduct.

Even in his chastening for their disobedience and rebellion (and ours), he is at his core and in the very essence of his being, good, loving, and kind.  That’s evident in all he does.

This psalm also showcases God’s sovereignty.  Just highlight all of the verbs related to God in these verses!  Doing so you’ll see that he redeemed, gathered, delivered, led, satisfied, filled, humbled, healed, saved, brought, and blessed (and more).

What action words can you write down to recount how God has revealed himself to you this year?  Maybe you can write your own psalm of remembrance!

As I look back on all of the answered prayers, the miracles, the faithfulness, the love, and the fruit that has come in this year, I can’t help but praise God for his checed.

Did we have some tough times? Of course.  Were there trials and tribulations? Absolutely. Have I made mistakes and missed the mark?  You betcha!  But through it all, God’s mercy endures forever.

Pause to ponder the goodness of the Lord this past year. Look back on the Lord. Even in the heartbreak and hard times, he has been faithful.

He is good and is working all things out for good.

Believe it and move forward by faith, trusting that whatever lies ahead, the same Lord who was with you this year, will be with you in the next, and the year after that until he comes again or calls you home.

~Psalm 107:9~ For he satisfieth the longing soul, and filleth the hungry soul with goodness.

 

Faithful in the Fearful

Like a warm fuzzy blanket on a cold and dreary day, or a tight hug from an old familiar friend, our pastor spoke these words over us this past Sunday:

1Thessalonians 5:24~Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.

Comforting and confirming, that verse has been a spiritual booster shot of confidence, reminding me once again that God is faithful to do what he has called us to.

After almost seventeen years in our first house, where our babies were raised, in the town we’d called home for most of our married life, and out of the church we had been born-again and trained up in, the Lord called my husband to pastor a new church plant in the next county, forty minutes away.  We’ve been here for about three months now, and we’re getting settled in, meeting people, and doing ministry.

It’s been relatively easy.  It feels like home, and everyone is adjusting well.  God has consistently been answering prayer after prayer for grace and peace during this transition time and has confirmed time and again that this is exactly where he wants us to be.

As I was unpacking our office recently, I came across a prayer journal from the first year of our walk with Jesus.  We were both fresh out of the world, neither one of us raised in Christian homes, or knowing anything about the bible.  Everything was fresh and new and we were like sponges soaking it all up.  It was such a blessing to look back on where God has brought us from, and to be reminded of all the prayers that God has answered along the way.  Early on in my relationship with Christ I started praying that God would use our family in a mighty way for his name’s sake.  That we would all be sold-out servants, surrendered to his word and will, and walking in his ways.

He is faithful indeed!

Knowing where we have been and who we were before salvation, it’s sort of surreal honestly, that God is using us in this way.  It’s been about ten years since the Lord called us out of darkness into his marvelous light.  A darkness that consisted of addiction, selfishness, pride, and lies. His grace truly is amazing. He saved us and has been sanctifying us for his service ever since.  We’re not perfect, or a model of holiness, but we’re partners in this ministry, purposed to teach the word of God, share the gospel, and bring God the glory he so rightfully deserves.

Let that be an encouragement to you ladies.  No matter where you’ve been, what you have done, or what your situation looks like now, God can use you if you ask him to.  He is in the miracle-working business, and he specializes in transforming even the messiest of us into masterpieces for his glory.

That includes your husband!  He may not be the man of your dreams right now, but that doesn’t mean anything.  Just because he may not be walking with the Lord right now, he may not even be a believer, that doesn’t mean he’s hopeless.  There are no lost causes with God.  Pray without ceasing!  Enlist trusted prayer warriors to join you in the battle for his soul.  Go to war with the enemy on your knees, and even when it looks like all hope is gone, pray through it, believing that God’s word is true and that God can do the seemingly impossible.

1Corinthians 1:9~God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.  

When I can’t see what lies ahead, God is faithful and we are called. When I don’t have any answers, God is faithful and we are called.  Even if no one else is there but Jesus, God is faithful and we are called.

Called to salvation, sanctification, and service, and he is faithful to answer prayers and supply our every need every step of the way.   In those hard moments and trying times ahead, when it’s not so easy, and fear and doubt threaten to drown me, I know those words will come flooding my mind again.  I can be confident in that, because I know my God, and he has been, and always will be faithful.  And the same goes for you!

  • What do you need to trust him for today?
  • Has the Lord called you to something weighty or fearful?
  • Do you have a verse like a familiar friend?

Feel free to leave a comment below, I would love to hear your answers!

~Isaiah 25:1~O LORD, thou art my God; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things; thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth.