Journaling for Spiritual Growth & God’s Glory
There was a season in my life when I journaled frequently. What I journaled and why I journaled thankfully changed and evolved over time producing good fruit. God, by His marvelous grace, changed my heart and my mind, and through His Word taught me to journal in a manner that would please Him.
When I first began my journal, it was not mature introspection or biblical self-examination to evaluate my faith or my walk before the Lord. My journaling was self-centered, full of self-pity, the epitome of “woe is me”. I had originally thought I was justified in what I wrote, and I was certain that for my own “sanity” I had no other recourse but to indulge in intense emotional outpourings on paper in response to difficult life circumstances and in response to the unloving, hurtful actions of others. I journaled to “get it out of me” thinking I would find emotional relief and mental stability.
My journal, in the beginning, was primarily a record of wrongs and self-justification for my anger in response to being wronged. I recorded my despair about life being too hard to bear, about not feeling loved and about the depth of my hopelessness. At first, I didn’t realize I was digging an emotional pit of despair and developing an unhealthy habit of negative, self-destructive thinking. Every time I reviewed the words of what I had previously written I dug the pit deeper and my emotions intensified. Life became darker and more despairing. A root of bitterness worked deeper into my heart.
Jesus, the Light who shines in the darkness, began a work in my heart. The true Light began to enlighten me. My thinking began to change. The Holy Spirit illumined the Word of God and I knew I was not alone. I was not unloved. There was hope. I began to experience the transforming power of His Word.
My thinking changed as I read, studied and meditated on the Scriptures. As a result, my journaling changed too! It had to! It became less important about detailing what was happening in my life and trying to determine the why’s. My journaling became a priority about Who was my life, my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I love and serve a great and mighty God. For too long a time I was blind to His desire to work in and through the circumstances of my life for the purpose of my spiritual growth and heart change. As the Lord imparted truth my despair became hope and my thoughts began to rise above my circumstances to Who was sitting on the throne in the heavenlies.
I learned love is patient and kind. Love does not seek its own and does not keep a record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:4-5). I started tearing pages out of my journal. They were not God honoring and would be extremely hurtful to others if they read what I had written.
The words I then began to write were prayers, the cries of my heart, no longer written in hopeless anguish, but in joyful anticipation of a miraculous work of God. I recorded the answers to those prayers. My faith grew and my anxiety melted away.
I wrote out portions of the Psalms in my journal. Like the psalmist I wanted to be honest about my emotions but I was careful to acknowledge one of the names of God or one of His attributes. The psalmist asked himself, “Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me” (Psalm 42:5a)? But he didn’t stop there. He purposed in his heart to “Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help (lit. saving acts) of His presence” (Psalm 42:5b). God is always present (Omnipresent). He promises He will never desert us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5). He is Omnipotent, all powerful. As I recognized these truths personally how could I not write in my journal a testimony of His grace and mercy working in my life? Rather than writing out of self-pity I decided I would rather write a witness of God’s faithfulness in the God ordained circumstances of my life with the intent to bring glory to His name.
I wrote out praises, verses of songs, and poems that resulted from the transforming power of the Scriptures upon my mind. I purposed to write down so I could remember the “songs in the night” (Psalm 77:6) that comforted me. I was able to rejoice and sing in true worship to the one true and living God. The depression lifted. The Lord by His mercy was bringing joy in my sorrow. Life is hard, but I chose to stand in faith. Jesus said, “…in the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
Yes, there were still circumstances and events that I recorded but they were written as a memory, an Ebenezer stone (1 Samuel 7:12), of God’s amazing deliverance and how He enabled me by His grace to endure (1 Corinthians 10:13) in times of temptation. I can say with absolute assurance that I know, “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).