December 8, 2012

Count your blessings

Even secular psychologists say it is healthy to count your blessings. Positive thoughts reduce tension and promote more than just a sense of well-being. Yet there is a danger in this. Sometimes “positive” people deny reality with a Pollyanna attitude that is unreal, even repulsive. No one can be happy, happy, happy all the time without others wondering about their mental state. 

However, and this is an important however, there is a way to lift myself out of a negative pit. If I am having a pity party and want to put a stop to it, being thankful will do it, even if offering thanks at first seems like a sacrifice.

O Lord, I am your servant; I am your servant, the son of your maidservant. You have loosed my bonds. I will offer to you the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call on the name of the Lord. (Psalm 116:16–17)

Counting my blessings has to begin somewhere. For me, it is usually at the fact that God has forgiven my sin and saved my soul. Once I get started on these positive realities of life, I then begin to think of other things that I can be thankful for, like health, my place in life, and that God loves me. Like the psalmist, I even say thanks for renewed strength and for the many times God has helped me rise above my problems.

Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits, who forgives all your iniquity, who heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit, who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, who satisfies you with good so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s. (Psalm 103:2–5)

Last night, I started a new gratitude journal. For a few years, I’d filled the pages of a notebook, but then set it aside. I now realize that thanksgiving is a disciple I need to practice all the time. Some find being thankful is easy, but I do not, so having a journal on my night table reminds me to reflect on the day and thank God for it.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18)

Doing the will of God may involve a to-do list, but it also involves having a joyful heart (no pity parties), offering continual prayer, and being thankful all the time, no matter what is happening.

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