I have been sick for the last two weeks, and the gloomy winter weather does not entice me to feel better. I am in the third trimester with my first child, and being sick at the same time is no fun! I ache to return to routine! Despite the rough last two weeks, one word has been quietly circulating in my mind: gratitude. Every day I have continually thanked God for my blessings without consciously thinking. I am grateful for many things, but three in particular: my sickness could have been worse, my child is safe, I have a wonderful husband and family to take care of me!
I have never considered myself an ungrateful person, but I am more conscious of my blessings now than I ever used to be. The fact that I did not have to fight off depression and selfishness by actively striving to find things to be grateful for means I have come a long way! The last four years have brought me much joy as well as trials. However, I do not worry as much as I used to. God is the ultimate provider and comforter! I often struggle to see the “light at the end of the tunnel.” But having faith means I follow Jesus as He leads towards the light instead of trusting my frail human perspective. It’s humbling and inspirational when I listen to stories of the struggles other people face while maintaining a grateful spirit. The weight of my problems seems light by comparison.
When you are facing a difficult situation, the last thing you want to hear is “count your blessings,” “look on the bright side,” or “it could always be worse.” Maybe you have received this advice at an inappropriate time or in a dismissive manner? I know I have. I have also been guilty of delivering this well-meaning advice improperly. We must be careful how we deliver messages of hope to those who are hurting. However, the message is true no matter how imperfect the method of delivery is: gratitude is an antidote. James 1:7 ESV says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” I often forget that none of us deserve the blessings we have. As I remember this, my perspective shifts from one of complaining to one of gratitude.
Scripture has so much to say about worry, anxiety, and thankfulness! Here are a few of my favorites:
“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness…” James 1:2-3 ESV
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 ESV
“Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.” Psalm 136:1 ESV
“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 ESV
This hymn is one I grew up singing in church. I am grateful that my current church still makes room for old hymns alongside contemporary worship music.
Count Your Blessings by Johnson Oatman
When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done…
Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, ev’ry doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by…
When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings, money cannot buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high…
So, amid the conflict, whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end…
Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your blessings, see what God hath done…