I recently learned of a middle-aged woman who was experiencing serious depression. The advice given to her was to begin a Thanksgiving list. Her instructions to count her blessings was not an assignment to be completed in one day or one week. This assignment was designed to be a process that led to meaningful consideration of her blessings. The tally was to list one thousand items for which she was genuinely thankful. Somehow, in the midst of her daily reflections and written prose, something changed within her soul. It was a slow change and even though she was not initially aware, those closest to her began to notice. Her healing was nothing short of miraculous. Although it might not be the cure for every clinical case, counting our blessings is a sure means to attitude adjustment for every Christian.
This task of counting our blessings is not a new concept. The Bible gives us these instructions in the hymn of Psalm 103, verses 1-5:
Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
This first verse begins with the foundation of our blessings. We dare not count them before we acknowledge their source and provide the proper praise. With a thankful heart, we should praise the holiness of God. Bless His holy name!
In the second verse, this hymn addresses our tendency to forget just how blessed we are. We dare not fail to remember how blessed we truly are. With a thankful heart, we should list the benefits of God. Forget not all His benefits!
Let me encourage you to begin your actual list. Nope, this is not a Thanksgiving exercise. I’m convinced that Christians should abandon the one week, weak concept of Thanksgiving and pursue a more aptly described lifestyle of thanks-living. This will be an arguable point, I’m sure. But what if the greatest saint is the one who is always thankful to God, who desires everything that God wills, who receives everything as an instance of God’s goodness, and has a heart always ready to praise God for it.
A genuine lifestyle of thanks-living goes beyond a simple “Bless the Lord” and moves forward with a grateful heart. And how should you get started? Just start counting your blessings.