Today, I’m honored to have Sarah Geringer—a friend that I met through the blogosphere and roomed with at She Speaks in 2017—as my guest today, speaking on how to transform our thoughts. She’s even written a book on this subject! You can find out more about that incredible resource, hot off the presses, along with Sarah’s bio below!
I woke to the luscious scent of purple irises. I had placed a vase of them on my nightstand in April 2015, when my husband packed his belongings and left. Those delicate flowers in my favorite color reminded me to give thanks inside a valley of shadows.
My parents divorced when I was four, and their split permanently altered my worldview. The fear of abandonment held me captive for decades and persisted throughout my challenging marriage. On the night my husband left, I was taken aback by the sight of his empty closet. It reminded me of a whitewashed tomb.
I burst into tears after holding myself together for our heartbroken children. Suddenly, I was living out my literal worst nightmare, when my own father had left me and forever changed my world. I didn’t want that future for our children, yet I feared I was staring death in the face.
Satan tempted me to lean into the shadows of that valley. All I wanted to do was curl up in a ball and hide from my fears. My flesh longed to wallow in self-pity and hopelessness, but God nudged my spirit. He cast a gentle light into my valley of suffering.
The Lord encouraged me to look for reasons to be thankful even when I couldn’t see what the future held. I began searching for thankfulness every day though my heartache didn’t relent.
As I began searching, I glimpsed gratitude in everyday moments:
- The musical sound of my oldest son’s laughter.
- The warmth of my middle son’s lingering hugs.
- My daughter’s precious gap-toothed smile.
- The fresh scent of newly mown grass.
- The first sweet strawberries of spring.
Abundant life was undeniable, all around me. As I sought out thanksgiving, I found hope and joy against the backdrop of darkness. My circumstances hadn’t changed, but a shift in attitude changed my perspective.
Inside your valley of shadows, thankfulness is a choice. We can choose to give thanks to God even while living out our worst fears. No matter which valley we walk through, we can look for glimpses of gratitude on the journey.
[bctt tweet=”No matter which valley we walk through, we can look for glimpses of gratitude on the journey. #grateful #thoughts @SarahGeringer” username=”@BethSteffaniak”]
The Bible tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV,
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
Note that it does not tell us to give thanks for all circumstances. But we are commanded to give thanks in all circumstances, because it is God’s will, not our own.
I was not thankful for my marriage separation nor the fears of abandonment it stirred in me. My children’s tears and my reasonable concerns did not create gratitude. But God wasn’t asking me to be thankful for those painful realities.
God wanted me to pour my heart out to him in honesty, not brush a veneer of false thanksgiving over my deep hurts. My prayers took on new depth in that season. When I got the hard things out of the way in prayer, God opened space for me to see reasons for rejoicing.
[bctt tweet=”Find out why @SarahGeringer says: When I got the hard things out of the way in prayer, God opened space for me to see reasons for rejoicing. Then discover how you can too! #Prayer #faith ” username=”BethSteffaniak”]
As I deliberately chose to be thankful, God gave me the power to fight back in that valley. My temptation toward fear diminished every time I spoke words of thanks to God in prayer.
Gratitude in my valley of shadows pointed me toward God’s life-giving light.
Our separation lasted five weeks, yet the lessons I learned in it have made a lasting impact on my faith. Other valleys since that time have been lit up with thanksgiving. The shadows seem less threatening because I recognize God’s nudges toward gratitude along the way.
Inspired by Sarah’s words? Want to focus on, even pray, Scriptures that stir up your gratitude to God? Then click on this link to download a free pdf printable. (It will open in a new tab and you can download it at the “…” in the upper righthand corner.)
Click on Sarah’s book below to check it out on Amazon!
Sarah Geringer is a speaker, artist and author of Transforming Your Thought Life: Christian Meditation in Focus and three self-published books. She is on the devotional writing teams forEncouragement for Today, A Wife Like Me, Devotable, Hope-Full Living and Woman 2 Woman Ministries. When she’s not reading over 100 books per year, Sarah enjoys painting, baking, gardening and playing the flute. Her daily must-haves are hot tea, dark chocolate, and fresh flowers. She lives in her beloved home state of Missouri with her husband and three children. Sarah writes about finding peace in God’s Word at sarahgeringer.com.
Congratulations to Ashley Rowland, who is the randomly chosen winner of my Bible study—Ephesians: Breaking Down Barriers & Living Secure. I hope you are blessed by it, Ashley! And if you haven’t snagged your copy at the reduced price of $8.50, know that you only have till Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2019 before it goes back to it’s original price of $9.99! So head there ASAP!
What are some of the things you are thankful for in your life, even in the middle of a valley?
What are some lessons God has taught you through the valleys in your own life?
Here are some other lovely linkups I join – Inspire Me Monday, Kingdom Bloggers, Literary Musing Mondays, Tea and Word Tuesday, Purposeful Faith, Tell His Story, InstaEncouragements Linkup, Recharge Wednesday, Porch Stories Linkup, Welcome Heart, Worth Beyond Rubies Wednesday, Sitting Among Friends, Tune in Thursday, Heart Encouragement, Grace and Truth, Faith and Friends, Faith on Fire Friday, Fresh Market Friday, and DanceWithJesusFriday
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