Next Thursday the majority of us will be “stuffed” with the bounty from our dining room tables. Many will be moaning the fact that they ate way too much even though they had vowed to not succumb to the allure of favorite dishes. I keep thinking that, perhaps, it would be a good thing to pause before we get to “that day” and thank God for the blessings of each day.
“Count Your Blessings” is a hymn that reminds me of the marvelous works that God has done in my life. “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.” The lyrics call us to stop right where we are and make a list of the blessings he has given to us.
Each time I sing that hymn I am reminded of another song that is from the movie “White Christmas.” “When I’m worried and I can’t sleep I count my blessings instead of sheep.” That thought in turn leads me to the reminder that “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6) And that in turn leads me to gratitude for the love that is given to me daily through the blessings of the Good Shepherd.
Thanksgiving Day is a time for acknowledgement. This year, many will give thanks for those who survived the recent cataclysm hurricanes, mass shootings, and out of control wild fires. Many survivors will give thanks for being alive – even if they lost all their earthly possessions. Giving thanks for life and for significant people in your lives is a starting point for counting your blessings. If you were told to evacuate immediately, what would you take with you?
Thanksgiving Day is also a time to express hope. We live with the hope that those we love will be with us again next year. We timidly embrace hope that we will have what we really need when we need it. We live with the hope that the world will become a better place to live for our children and grandchildren. We live with hope and with expectation of better times when the Day of the Lord finally does come to set all of creation aright (Joel 2:21-27).
Next Thursday is Thanksgiving Day. What if we took the time to stop and count our blessings before we made that trip to the grocery store? What if our traditional observances moved beyond an overloaded table to a helping our “neighbors” make it through the harshness of winter? What if we really, really put forth an effort to have an inward attitude of gratitude?
“Count your blessings name them one by one; County your blessings see what God has done; Count your blessings name them one by one; and it will surprise you what the Lord has done!”
The writer is the the chaplain at Ohio Living Dorothy Love and does pastoral care at Sidney First United Methodist Church.