I remember singing “Count Your Blessings” as a child. It was one of my favorites, probably because it’s really country and sounds like a good old Southern hymn. The song says,
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 has done
Beautiful, right? Sure. When life sucks, I can think about all the good times and about all the awesome things God has given me… like a nice house, a nice car, nice parents, food to eat, a good job. That’s what the song is telling me to do, right? When life sucks, I can count all the things that God has given me and “blessed” me with so I can look forward to more “blessings” once the suffering is over.
I was reading in Daniel this morning about the famous moment when he’s thrown into the lion’s den. Darius, unable to change the law that sent Daniel into the lion’s den, sealed the only exit and called to Daniel, “May your God, whom you serve continually, rescue you!” Darius spent the entire night sleepless, distraught and worried about Daniel’s life.
In the Medo-Persian empire, laws were unchangeable. Not even the king could change a law once it was made. But, I thought, Darius was the KING!!! Couldn’t he have made some sort of law that created a loophole so that Daniel’s life might be spared? How could he have so little control? Couldn’t he just make a new law and make this situation right?
Then it hit me: if Darius had “fixed” the situation, then what need would Daniel have for God? How would God have been glorified if Darius had solved the problem himself and spared Daniel’s life? Then Darius would have been praised and given credit and God would have been forgotten. I just love seeing the Lord work on our behalf in ways we don’t understand, in ways we could never imagine, and in ways that we could never work on our own.
We can do nothing on our own (John 15:5). God has certainly given us a brain and taught us how to use it and there are times when He empowers us to work things out for ourselves, though it is He who gives us the power and energy to do so. However, there are those times when we feel like we’re in our own lion’s den. We can do nothing to “fix” the situation – but we serve a God who CAN. We serve a God who loves us with a tremendous love and He is working for our good, on our behalf.
Not every situation is going to work out to be just peachy and dandy and with everything just the way we want it. If it did, we’d be serving a different god – the god of prosperity. Our God works in higher ways – His ways – by weaving together situations in the way that only He can so that He may be glorified. We are so blessed to have Him working for us – though we often only count our blessings as the things God has done for us where the end is appealing.
Old car? Blessed. New car? Blessed. Healthy body? Blessed. Cancer? Blessed. Financial hardship? Blessed. Material abundance? Stressed. 🙂 Single? Blessed. Married? Blessed. Awesome job? Blessed. Sucky job? Blessed. Kids? Blessed. No kids? Blessed. Everything always works out for you? Blessed. Everything always seems to go wrong at the last possible minute when you’re already stretched as thin as you can be? Blessed.
The blessing is not merely what God is doing or what He will do for us – it is what God has already done! He sent His son to die on our behalf so that our sin may one day be removed and we may be found perfect and holy in His sight and spend eternity in His heavenly kingdom! Jesus Christ is the ultimate blessing!! We have Jesus and the Holy Spirit with us no matter where we go or what we do.
Having a “blessed life” isn’t about having a life that looks good in earthly terms. A blessed life is one in which Jesus is King and one where He is the treasure. When we relish in the material blessings, we start to worship God’s works instead of God Himself. God wants to bless us so much (Isaiah 30:18), but it is Him we seek – not His “blessings”. If we really believe that Jesus is enough, then we’ll begin to see those material blessings as the icing on the cake because Jesus Christ himself becomes our focus, our prize, our treasure.
I’ll count my blessings:
1. Jesus Christ; my salvation through Him, my relationship with Him, and my service to Him.
Matthew 6:21, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”