With a Grateful Heart

With a Grateful Heart was written by Trista Park

Praise the Lord! Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever.

Psalm 106:1 NKJV

There is a song my daughters sing constantly in our home. 

“Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall. There are seasons, four in all.”

I often find myself humming the tune hours after they have stopped singing. It’s a cute and fun way to remember the order of the seasons and has brought up some interesting conversations about weather patterns during various seasons.

The area in which we live does not have as distinct of seasons as other parts of the state do. Sure, we have some rain in the winter and it gets hot in the summer, but the lines often blur when summer has ended and fall has begun. The question that usually follows in our discussion of seasons is “which season is your favorite?”

I used to answer fall every single time I was asked this question.

I love the idea of fall. The change in the weather to cooler temperatures, welcoming in the holiday season, and the smell of pumpkin spice wafting in the air.

As I have gotten older though, I have learned the importance of appreciating each season and being thankful in the current season as it relates not only to the change of weather but also the shift of life. 

I have not always been so quick to relate the idea of being thankful in the current season to the chaos of life changes. In fact, I have walked through difficult seasons I have often wanted to block out entirely instead of acknowledging and appreciating the change in perspective gained from enduring hardship. The growth produced in me and the deepening of my relationship with the Lord gives me reason to rejoice with boundless gratitude. Not only did I make it through the various trials by God’s grace, but He has used the extenuating circumstances to remind me of His unchanging character and His steadfastness. 

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Phrases such as “give thanks to the Lord” or “rejoice always” are laced throughout the pages of the Bible. These words of encouragement are often reminding the church to rejoice regardless of the immediate circumstances. Having a heart posture of gratitude while keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus gives us perspective, our faith stretched and strengthened while walking through the deep and dark valleys of life. Yet even in those moments, remembering the free gift of salvation gives us countless reasons to rejoice in the Lord.

A Change in Seasons

Nearly five years ago, I found out through a routine ultrasound my third daughter with would be born with major heart defects. Often times these defects are associated with genetic differences. Upon further blood work, my husband and I were shocked to hear the news our daughter would be born with Down Syndrome. 

The downward spiral soon followed, my soul feeling downcast like I hadn’t experienced while navigating through the uncertainty. The weightiness of the situation felt crushing and the road ahead unknown, full of unanswered questions and laden with “what ifs”. The struggle to keep my mind on things above proved to be challenging through the remainder of the pregnancy and beyond. 

How could I rejoice always as Paul described in chapter four of Philippians knowing the baby I was carrying in my womb would be born different? Her heart condition was severe and would require immediate surgery. It all seemed difficult to wrap my mind around, time nearly at a standstill yet racing past me at lightening speed.  

With a Grateful Heart

The only place I had to go was into the loving arms of the Father, knowing He was unshaken by the unfolding events. His mighty arms provided the shelter my weary soul needed, the only constant in the midst of the growing uncertainty. These moments where faith intersects with difficulty provide incredible opportunities of growth as we step out in faith and trust that God’s purpose in the pain is far beyond what we could ever think or imagine.

God promises us in His Word to never leave us, nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:8) through whatever season we are facing. Having an attitude of thankfulness for these very truths found in God’s Word helps us maintain our heavenly perspective while knowing we may not fully understand the purpose this side of heaven. But, we can rest assured knowing He will not leave our side for a single moment. 

Paul reminds us to come to God and pour out our requests with thanksgiving (Philippians 4:6). God may not change the impending season of difficulty, but His peace will guard our hearts as we rest in Him. This is a call for us to walk by faith, trust God with unchanging circumstances difficult as they may be, and praise Him through the storms of life. When David was fleeing for his life, in the midst of the turmoil he faced, he continually offered up psalms of praise providing us with examples of how we ought to live out our faith even in a time of hardship. 

Walking through the season of heart surgeries with my baby was incredibly challenging. It brought me to my knees daily as I begged God to heal my daughter’s heart. It changed my faith significantly as I fought to rejoice in those moments of pain. I didn’t think I had reason to praise God for this particular storm. 

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Yet, as I prayed for God’s strength to carry me through the season of weakness, my heart clung to God in a way I hadn’t experienced before. He met me in my season of sorrow and reminded me He loved my daughter far more than I could ever comprehend. He had created her in His image, perfect and unique, and had given me the glorious opportunity to be her mother, a role I am incredibly grateful for. 

And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

Romans 5:3-5 NKJV

Our Only Hope

This hope we have in Jesus does not disappoint. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). Knowing this can give us the confidence when we face the unexpected seasons of life.

The hope we have in Jesus as the anchor of our souls (Hebrews 6:19), keeps us grounded and secure in Him while experiencing His faithfulness in both the good seasons and hard. His character remains steady and unchanging, the constant in a sea of chaos. Through the tears of disappointment and sorrow, hope tethers us to Christ, our reason to rejoice. 

When we daily practice an attitude of gratitude, it lays the groundwork for seasons we have not yet faced. Making it a habit to cherish and acknowledge the moments of beauty in the ordinary give us the practice of creating a heart of worship in times of trial. Hearts that are constantly seeking after God, hearts turned towards Him ready for His good work, and thankful for who we are in Him. 

About the Author

Trista is a warrior mama raising her girl tribe in sunny California alongside her outnumbered husband when it comes to all things girl. She’s a Jesus lover, coffee drinker, mama runner, and special needs advocate.  Her journey into the world of disabilities although unexpected, has changed her perspective in many ways, and she is ready and willing to share it with whoever crosses her path. Her youngest who rocks an extra chromosome has captivated her heart from the very first moment their eyes met and is now changing her life in big ways.

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As an atheist transformed by the Word of God, Mariel Davenport knows the power of seeking God through His Word. She is passionate about equipping others to tend their soul by the Word as well. She does this through her TEND method, a simple process of engaging with God through the Scriptures.

She shares her method through online Tend Gatherings, Scripture journals and speaking engagements. Having been featured in places like CBN.com, Proverbs 31 ministries, Not My Story, Brave Woman Series and The Love Offering Series; Mariel has reached ladies of all ages and denominations with the joy of knowing God through His Word for themselves. She co-leads the membership community, Knowing God Through His Word, which encourages others to read through the Bible. She is co-author of Tapestry of Grace and Knowing God through the Word Scripture Journal.

Mariel is a wife to her man of nearly 25 years and a retired homeschool mama turned writer, who enjoys salsa from her garden as she pursues the Gardener who tends her soul. Tend your soul with her bi-monthly newsletter, Tending Tools, and get updates and announcements about upcoming TEND Gatherings by signing up at marieldavenport.com/tending/

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