When our children were little, before they went to sleep we would read a bible story or another book together, then kneel by one of their beds and take turns praying to God. We would thank God for the blessings of the day and ask Him to help us with whatever was going on in our lives. Our daughter would thank God that she got to wear her favorite shorts that day, or that a stuffed animal felt better, or she had mac and cheese for dinner. But some nights her older brother had a hard time remembering some good things that happened during the day that he could be thankful for.
We came up with the idea that he could tell us about five good things that happened that day and write them down in a journal. That would help jog his memory and bring his focus back from the harder parts of the day to the better ones.
It worked! After that when we would get together at night to pray, our son was able to thank God for the five good things. Sometimes there were more than 5. Many times lunch and recess were at the top of the list. The point is, he began training his mind to think about positive things in his day.
Aren’t we like that? When we are going through the difficult seasons of life, or just a particularly exhausting day, isn’t it hard to stop and think of the blessings God has given us?
When life is so busy you can’t catch your breath, or so overwhelming you have a tough time even getting out of bed, it can be close to impossible to bring your focus back from the trials you’re facing to the blessings you’ve received.
‘And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.’ Philippians 4:8-9
Maybe you’ve read or even memorized verse 8 and put it into use. Verse 9 is important to include because it lets us see what will happen if we do what verse 8 says. “Then the God of peace will be with you.”
I can’t tell you how many times I have laid down in my bed at the end of a long day and my mind has started running through the list of problems I’m currently dealing with. Instead of being at peace, I get all wound up and then I can’t sleep. How nice it would be for me to sense the God of peace with me so I can fall asleep!
There’s an old song from the Musical White Christmas called “Count Your Blessings”. Bing Crosby sang these simple lyrics that have a lesson for us today.
“When I’m worried and I can’t sleep, I count my blessings instead of sheep. And I fall asleep counting my blessings.”
Think I’ll begin a new nighttime tradition. I’ll do what my son did in his early years and write 5 Good Things in a journal before going to bed. It will be a reminder to thank God for all of my many blessings. Want to join me?
And we have received God’s Spirit (not the world’s spirit), so we can know the wonderful things God has freely given us. 1 Corinthians 2:12