count your blessings.
Literally. Count them. Use your fingers, use your toes. Chances are, whatever you are going through right now, your blessings still outweigh your troubles. That was Bonpapa’s attitude. He lived with an attitude of gratitude that began with the Lord. If you know the Lord, if you know who he is, what his word says, and that he loves you, what else do you need? The way Bonpapa saw it, if nothing else in his life was going right, but he still had God, he was doing alright – better than many, in fact.
My husband and I went through a situation recently where I was called to put this into practice. After a long and faithful run, my husband’s car had finally gone ‘kaput’ on the side of the highway one night as he was driving home from work. Financially, we were unprepared. Practically speaking, we were down a vehicle that we needed desperately to function in our everyday lives. Spiritually, we knew what to do. We began to say ‘thank you’ to God in prayer.
We thanked him for my husband’s safety and that the ‘blow up’ happened close to our home. My husband works out of town, so the situation could have been much worse had it happened further away. We thanked God for the other blessings in our lives: Our home, our children, our friends, our health, our full bellies. There was much to be grateful for, even in this circumstance. We thanked God for the times he had brought us through challenges, reminding him and ourselves of all the times we have been rescued. Lastly, the hardest thanks to muster was appreciation for the lesson. It went something like this: “ Lord, whatever you are teaching us or whatever you will accomplish through this event, we thank you in advance for it. We praise your mighty name for allowing us to be a part of your plan, and for molding and shaping our hearts through challenges such as these.”
Thirty minutes later, a brand new car was delivered to our front door and all was right in our world once again. Ha! Not exactly. Not even close. Thankfully, though, daily scripture reading had prepared us for what we faced. In the next few days, two Bible verses played over and over again in my thoughts: Hebrews 6:19, which says we have this hope (relationship with Christ) as an anchor for our soul. Christ in our hearts keeps us steady, even as we go through life’s storms. The second verse, 2 Corinthians 4:7, says we have this treasure (relationship with God) in jars of clay, to show that power belongs to God and not to us. We humans are fragile, like delicate clay jars, and God within us is where our true strength lies. It is no coincidence that these verses both begin with “we have”. Bonpapa was right. If you know the Lord, if you know who he is, what his word says, and that he loves you, what else do you need?
One final verse, 2 Corinthians 12:9, says that the Lord’s power is made perfect in our weakness. Only when we admit we are broken, do we allow God to take over, take control, and take care of us. If we can be grateful without needing explanation, we experience spiritual growth.
Being grateful doesn’t always fix the trouble, but it does prevent us from being overcome by our troubles. Recognizing that God’s ways and purposes are higher than our own gives us something and someone to lean on when times are tough. God never guarantees the ride will be easy, but he does assure us that we are never alone – never without hope – even as we walk the highway on a dark night. For that, I will say ‘thank you’.
We have this hope as a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. Hebrews 6:19
But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. 2 Corinthians 4:7
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah Psalm 46:1-3
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9