Updated: Nov 7, 2020
Count your blessings; name them one by one,
Count your blessings; see what God has done.
Count your blessings; name them one by one.
Count your many blessings; see what God has done.
The above hymn is an invitation to remember all that God has done in our lives. When we recollect all the good things -- the bad things that are happening in our world and in our lives will look tiny in proportion, giving us great joy and peace.
When was the last time you took a stock check of all that had happened in your life? An anniversary? A birthday? A significant milestone? A former student of mine celebrated his 50th birthday recently. He took half a day to spend time with God and reflect on the 50 years of his life. During this exercise, he listed 50 thanksgiving items! Let me mention two of them.
First, he was grateful to God for bringing him out of darkness into his glorious light.
Second, he was thankful to God for transforming him from a self-centered person, to a servant of God.
When we count our blessings, we will be surprised what God has done! Moses told the children of Israel in Deuteronomy chapter 8 the importance of recounting the goodness of the Lord who had taken care of all their needs while they were travelling in the wilderness:
He fed them with manna, their clothes did not wear out and their feet did not swell during those 40 years
Moses told the Israelites that God was going to lead them into the promised land where they will have abundance of everything:
…a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing out in the valleys and hills, a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive trees and honey, a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing, a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. And you shall eat and be full, and you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land he has given.
Moses reminded them that when they have all these bountiful blessings, they must take heed, lest they fall.
Take care lest you forget the Lord by not keeping his commandments and his rules and his statutes, which I command you today, lest, when you have eaten and are full and have built good houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks multiply and your silver and gold is multiplied and all that you have is multiplied, then your heart be lifted up, and you forget the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, who led you through the great and terrifying wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water, who brought you water out of the flinty rock, who fed you in the wilderness with manna that your fathers did not know, that he might humble you and test you, to do you good in the end.
Moses repeated the importance of remembering the goodness of the Lord lest they become proud and think that they did all these things by their own effort and with their own hands and might.
Despite repeated warnings, the Israelites became puffed up with pride. They despised the Lord their God and took on the gods of their neighbors. Eventually God punished them through the Assyrians and the Babylonians. We may think – how ungrateful the Israelites were, after all that God had done for them. Sadly, we are no different!
The context may not be the same, but our attitudes are the same.
Our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked, who can know it, says the Lord
When we stop recounting our blessings, we will slowly drift from God, replacing Him with other things that can choke our relationship with him. Soon there will be no semblance of a relationship we once enjoyed with him! Gratitude is a vital part of our faith and intimacy with Christ. This will keep us in that posture of humility, submission and fear of the Lord.
This pandemic is a wake-up call for many of us. God in his mercy has given us this ‘selah’ time to pause and recalibrate our relationship with Him and our purpose in this world.
Let us declare with the psalmist:
Bless the LORD O my soul and forget not all his benefits