I remember singing it as a boy. “Count your blessings, name them one by one….” Honestly, I have sung that old hymn more times than I have actually practiced it!
It takes a fair amount of discipline to literally list all things wonderful—all that God has blessed us with. It demands careful attention and time set aside to do just that.
George Buttrick, in a book entitled simply PRAYER, tells the story of a man who used a unique illustration to help people see the goodness of God.
A lecturer to a group of businessmen displayed a sheet of white paper on which was one blot. He asked what they saw. All answered, “A blot.” The test was unfair; it invited the wrong answer. Nevertheless, there is an ingratitude in human nature by which we notice the black disfigurement and forget the widespread mercy.
We need to deliberately call to mind the joys of our journey. Perhaps we should try to write down the blessings of one day. We might begin. We could never end. There are not pens or paper enough in all the world.
The attempt would remind us of our “vast treasure of content.”
Paying attention to the details of your life takes real discipline. When we do we see the hidden, often overlooked things. Today you and I could simply take notice.
Start small. Make a list of the things God has blessed us with. It can include our loved ones, things material, or even opportunities we have been given.
We might include things like coffee and ice cream, filet mignon and baked sweet potato! We could end by listing what God has done for this day, this week, or all along the way.
Before you know it, we will have 10, 50, 100 and counting things on our lists, as George Buttrick called it, a “vast treasure.”
I don’t think this is merely positive thinking, do you? I prefer to see it as a deep truth about who God is and the world we live in. It doesn’t deny that our troubles are real, but perhaps we’ll begin to see how infinitesimally small, when compared to God’s widespread mercy.
Question: What are some of the things you often overlook when giving thanks to God? Do you think this is merely a mind game?