Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Count Your Blessings, One By One and Every Day

By Lauren Yarger
We all know we're supposed to stay positive, to lean on God in the midst of adversity, but sometimes knowing that and doing it are two different things.

No matter where we are in our journey with God, sometimes we find ourselves in a dark place. Some years ago, I was in that pit. Circumstances seemed to be raging against me and my family. I can look back now and see it as one of the more aggressive attacks against my faith by the enemy, but at the time, no amount of "head knowledge" about spiritual warfare or words of wisdom about trusting the Lord seemed to peel back the darkness surrounding me. It wasn't a question of faith, for I never doubted God or who he was. I just couldn't get to him, it seemed, through all the disappointments, deaths, illnesses, betrayals, financial losses and other circumstances that were framing the pit around me.

My prayer life became quiet. God knew how I felt and was allowing the avalanche of negative circumstances, so there didn't seem much point to reiterating my thoughts. Probably because he missed hearing from me, he directed me to 1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for
this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus
(NIV).


I knew there were things in my life for which I should be grateful, but which had been obliterated by the constant attention-stealing negatives. I made a promise to the Lord to find at least one thing for which I could give thanks each day, and bought a journal in which to record them, because I knew it would be easy to forget.

Some days, it felt like I was scraping the bottom of the barrel to come up with something. "A roof over our heads" or "when I turned the key in the ignition, the car started" would be all I could find to record. On the darkest days, and there were several, the entry read "I'm still here."

Eventually, I began to see a pattern. When forced to look for positives, I recognized parts of my life for which I'd never really given a lot of thanks. A roof over my head truly was something for which to be grateful. How many people in this country alone wouldn't have been able to come up with that item? A lot. Simple things, like the fact that my husband had a job, that my son sings in the shower, that my daughter smiles while watching the Weather Channel, that we had wood for a fire, that my home is full of books to read and a myriad of previously taken-for-granted things came to mind and filled the pages of that notebook.

Glancing through the pages now, I see not so much a tribute to God's provision, which it is, but a daily step in obedience to follow God and to refuse to succumb to the attack of the enemy, who is just as committed on a daily basis, to cause me to doubt and to lose faith.

If you're in the pit, or afraid you are heading into it because religion or people, the church or just life has failed you, I encourage you to start your own book of thanks. You won't regret it. And along the way, take encouragement from an old hymn. As Robert J. Morgan notes in his book "Then Sings My Soul" while commenting on the hymn "Count Your Blessings," Martin Luther wrote:

"The greater God's gifts and works, the less are they regarded. The highest and most precious treasure we receive of God is, that we can speak, hear, see, etc.; but how few acknowledge these as God's special gifts, much less give God thanks for them. The world highly esteems riches, honor, power, and other things of less value, which soon vanish away, but a blind man, if in his right wits, would willingly exchange all these for sight."

Count Your Blessings
By Johnson Oatman, Jr.
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 hath done.

Count your blessings,
name them one by one, Count your blessings,
see what God hath done! Count your blessings,
name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath 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 keep singing as the days go by.

Count your blessings,
name them one by one, Count your blessings,
see what God hath done! Count your blessings,
name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings.
Wealth can never buy your reward in heaven,
nor your home on high.

Count your blessings,
name them one by one, Count your blessings,
see what God hath done! Count your blessings,
name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

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

Count your blessings,
name them one by one, Count your blessings,
see what God hath done! Count your blessings,
name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

1 comment:

Retta Blaney said...

Practicing gratitude is good for our mental health as well as our spiritual. It has helped me too when I was down. It's not always easy to praise God in all things, but it certainly does help.

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The Blind Side

Read about the real life mom from "The Blind Side."

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Lauren Yarger, Bio

Lauren Yarger has written, directed and produced numerous shows and special events for both secular and Christian audiences. She co-wrote a Christian musical version of “A Christmas Carol” which played to sold-out audiences of over 3,000 in Vermont and was awarded the 2000 Vermont Bessie (theater and film awards) for “People’s Choice for Theatre.” She also has written two other dinner theaters, sketches for church services and devotions for Christian artists.

Yarger trained for three years in the Broadway League’s Producer Development Program, completed the Commercial Theater Institute's Producing Three-Day Training and produced a one-woman musical about Mary Magdalene that toured nationally and closed with an off-Broadway run.

In 2008 she was a Fellow at the National Critics Institute at the O'Neill Theater Center in Waterford, CT. She writes reviews of Broadway and off-Broadway theater with a Christian perspective for Reflections in the Light (http://reflectionsinthelight.blogspot.com/) and is editor of The Connecticut Arts Connection. She also is a contributing editor for BroadwayWorld.com

She also reviews books for Publisher's Weekly and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. She formerly was Connecticut theater editor for CurtainUp, a national theater web site bsed in New York and a reviewer for American Theater Web.

She also served as Executive Director of Masterwork Productions, Inc. and worked in arts management for the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford and the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.

She is a freelance writer and member of the Drama Desk, The Outer Critics Circle, The American Theater Critics Association, The League of Professional Theatre Women and The CT Critics Circle.

A former newspaper editor and graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism, Yarger lives with her husband in West Granby, CT and has two adult children.

Copyright Notice

All contents copyright © Lauren Yarger 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013. All rights reserved. For reprint permission, contact masterworkproductions@yahoo.com.

Scripture from THE MESSAGE Copyright 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

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