Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Counting Blessings

                I normally have a positive attitude.  I usually see the glass as half full rather than half empty.  I often look for the silver lining behind the dark clouds.  I really dislike it when someone wants to pour water on my parade.  Why?  I know I am very blessed and often count my blessings. 

                I love to sing a hymn entitled Count Your Blessings (Hymns, 241; text written by Johnson Oatman, Jr., [1856-1922] and music written by Edwin O. Excell [1851-1921].  I learned this hymn as a child and try to follow the counsel in it.  

                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.
                Are you ever burdened with a load of care?  Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
                Count your many blessings; every doubt will fly, And you will be singing as the days go by.

                When you look at others with their lands and gold, Think that Christ has promised you his wealth untold.
                Count your many blessings; money cannot buy Your reward in heaven nor your home on high.

                So amid the conflict, whether great or small, Do not be discouraged; God is over all.
                Count your many blessings; angels will attend, Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

                Chorus:  Count your blessings; Name them one by one.  Count your blessings; See what God hath done.  Count your blessings; Name                them one by one.  Count your many blessings; See what God hath done.
                I highly encourage all of us to regularly count our blessings.  Most of us have so many blessings that we do not even recognize many of them or think of them as gifts from our loving Heavenly Father.  Consider the following information.  When I look at my life under this microscope, I know I am very blessed.

                If you can read this message, you are more blessed than over two billion people in the world that cannot read anything at all.
                If you woke up this morning with more health than illness, you are more blessed than the million people who will not survive the       week. 
                If you have food in your refrigerator, clothes on your back, a roof over your head and a place to sleep, you are richer than 75% of this                 world.
                If you have money in the bank, in your wallet, and spare change in a dish someplace, you are among the top 8% of the world’s           wealthy.
                If your parents are still married and alive, you are very rare, especially in the United States. 
                If you attend a church meeting without fear of harassment, arrest, torture, or death, you are more blessed than almost three billion      people in the world. 
                If you have never experienced the danger of battle, the loneliness of imprisonment, the agony of torture or the pangs of starvation, you              are ahead of 20 million people around the world.     
                If you hold up your head with a smile on your face and are truly thankful, you are blessed because the majority can, but most do not.
                If you can hold someone’s hand, hug them or even touch them on the shoulder, you are blessed because you can offer God’s healing                 touch.
                There are many ways that we can count our blessings and learn to see more of them.  One way is to keep a “blessings notebook” as discussed in a poem written by Marianne Wilson McKnight.  

                One day, I started writing down
                My blessings one by one.
                I filled both sides of seven sheets
                And still did not get done.

                I wrote down, “friends and family,
                And legs that run and hop,
                A cozy bed and clothes to wear,
                And, of course, my mom and pop.”

                I’m grateful for so many things –
                For sunsets, trees, and rain,
                For eyes to see and ears to hear,
                For being free from pain.

                I wrote the name of Jesus down –
                I’m thankful most for Him –
                Then added, “scriptures, music, love,
                And my new puppy, Tim.”

                And now whenever I feel down
                And don’t know what to do,
                I get my blessings notebook out
                And add a page or two.

                Another way to recognize and count our blessings is to get a new perspective; we can rephrase the situation and turn our problems into blessings.  Consider the difference in the following statements.  
1) “I have to go to a new school.”  “I have the opportunity to make a whole new set of friends and learn new things from them.” 
2) “I’m the only Mormon in a student body of 2,500.”  “This way I’ll have lots of opportunities to share the gospel.”
3) “I’m only a freshman and can’t do very well on the basketball team.”  “But workouts are a great way to stay in shape, and they’ll help prepare me for next year.”
4) “Most people speak Spanish here, and I don’t understand them.”  “Great!  I always wanted to learn a foreign language.  Here’s my chance.”
5) I have to go to work.  I have a job where I can earn money to provide for myself and my family.
6) I have to clean the house.  I am grateful that I have a house to clean.
7) Being a mother of several small children is not fun.  I am grateful that Heavenly Father trusted me enough to send these sweet little children to my home.

                Still another way to count blessings is to occasionally express only gratitude in our prayers.  Instead of simply saying “I am grateful for a healthy body,” I will go into more detail “I am thankful for eyes that see, ears that hear, toes and fingers, etc. We are often so in need of blessings – or think we are - that our desires consume most of our prayers.  We do nothing wrong when we ask for blessings, but we should be sure to express gratitude for the ones we already enjoy.

                When we focus on counting our blessings, our minds forget our troubles and our loads are lightened.  Sister Shirley W. Thomas, then second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, spoke about counting blessings.  “When our children were young, they had a first-grade teacher who understood one of the distinct benefits of counting.  She explained that when she shopped for clothes to wear to school, she always looked for dresses with buttons – down the front, on the sleeves, the pockets – and the more buttons the better.  Then, when it was time to settle her class down each morning, she would ask the children to count the buttons on her dress while she called the roll.

                “Counting blessings doesn’t have much in common with counting buttons, but it does have the same function of requiring our focus.  While we count, we concentrate our attention upon the encouraging, the positive, the happy.  It gets our mind away from loneliness or pain….

                “We all, at times, succumb to the tendency to discount what we have or fail to realize the value in what we have because of focusing so much on what we want.  We lament, `I don’t have a thing to wear,’ when we really have clothes in the closet; but somehow they don’t count.  Or `I wish I had a friend,’ when actually there are many who could be friends if we would realize it.

                “It takes maturity and sometimes perspective to be able to place the proper value on gifts and blessings – know what counts….
                “We need to count our blessings because it causes us to look more closely and not miss those quiet blessings beyond price.  `It will surprise you,’ as the hymn says.”

                We know that God watches over all His children and sends many blessings to each of us.  He has given us this beautiful world to live in, warm sunshine to brighten our days, and cooling rain to freshen the air.  He gave us His Son, Jesus Christ, who died for us that we might return to God’s presence.  He has a plan for how we can find true happiness. 

                The Apostle Paul wrote to the Romans:  “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God….”  This is a very important and powerful statement.  It tells us that loving God is the only qualification for being blessed.  If we love Him, God will make sure that everything works together for our good.  We can safely put our trust in God and have many blessings to count!

No comments:

Post a Comment