I pulled out my old journals last night. Before I get started in what I want to tell you I need to make sure you understand what a journal is to me. It is more of a prayer journal than anything else. It's a record of my walk with God and journey through life - acknowledging where God is, what He's doing and what it has to do with me.
The first one I looked at I had actually started a few days before I met Ricky (my husband). It was so interesting to see what I had been learning and thinking during that time and how much it spoke to my situation. I then read through the journal that I kept during the time that I was pregnant with my daughter. Then the one that I started right after she was born. Good stuff. Emotional stuff.
The one that I most enjoyed, though was the one that I kept during the time that my husband was diagnosed with leukemia. He has been in remission now for 5 years, so no need to be concerned. I am only sharing this because I noticed something in that journal that was different from the other journals. In that journal, I wrote every day. Sometimes multiple times per day. I wrote longer entries than in the other journals and I acknowledged and praised God more often. I noticed that during that incredibly difficult and depressing time - I noticed God more often than during the wonderful times in my life (meeting the love of my life - and preparing for the birth of our daughter). I knew God better during that time - obviously because I talked to Him more often. I made time for God because He was the only stable, solid and good thing in my life at that point.
This is the stuff that James was talking about in James 1 - (consider it pure joy whenever you face trials). It is during these trials that we find out more about God than the surface level stuff. We get to experience for ourselves the love of the Father - the comfort and the strength that He gives. That's why journaling is so important. Last night I was taken back to that time - through my own eyes. I remembered the emptiness I felt and the way God filled it with His love. It was like reliving the experience - but most of what I wrote focused on God - and not on me. It was like drawing closer to Him all over again.
Journaling is important - it helps us to remember the ways God has provided - it helps us to not make the same mistakes we did back then - to look forward and to be different - to be better.
Go find a journal and get started - I'll do the same.