"Count your blessings...name them one by one..."
This is the refrain that kept going through my head the other day as we were on a family bike ride. I was bringing up the rear, so I literally counted up my blessings as I gazed at my husband and my four children (well, I had to look over my shoulder at the baby in his little seat behind me.) It was a perfect sunny day with puffy clouds and gorgeous weather. Everyone was enjoying the fresh air and view of the snow-capped mountains as we rode down the tree-lined trail.
In my thirty-six years of life on this planet, I've learned that sometimes life stinks. The little worries and troubles that swirl in and out of our days can leave us thinking, "is this all there is?" At times these "little things" can wear us down more than the doozies of life -- after all, we are on the lookout for those. We expect them to happen. It's just a matter of time.
But, I'm not sure that I ever gave a thought to the day in and day out trials of life grating so much -- you know, another poopy diaper after you just changed a blow-out of epic proportions; children who don't seem to understand the concept of keeping their hands to themselves and "inside voices" when you have a headache; husbands who drink all the diet soda and don't restock the fridge; receiving an unexpected bill in the mail when all your paycheck has been allocated for the month; and finding mud tracks all over your newly-cleaned floor.
These are the things that make me crazy on a day to day, week to week basis. But they are really so very small. I really think that many times our "worst day ever" here in America is better than the best day of the majority of the rest of the world.
So as I was cruising along on my bike, lifting my face up to feel the wind on my face and my baby's fingers clutching the back of my shirt, this old hymn of the church written in 1897 by Johnson Oatman, Jr. floated through my head and I had to sing aloud the first verse:
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.
Discouragement is a part of life. I know that I am easily disappointed. However, it also seems I am equally forgetful about the many, many blessings in my life. I take so many things for granted. After all, these things become common -- so common that I think that I have not only earned them, I deserve them.
Funny how that sense of entitlement doesn't seem to trickle over into the troubles of life. I know that I don't usually feel I deserve the bad stuff. And the bad can be really bad. It's not all petty stuff. We live in a world with cancer, loss of loved ones, addiction, broken relationships. These things can truly make it hard to get out of bed in the morning -- let alone function properly throughout the day.
Those calamities are also tempered by baby giggles and kisses, miracles of healing, financial provision out of "nowhere," and the restoration of families. There is no one or the other. There is only the intermingling of both together. This is the life we get to live. I love what verse four of the song says:
So, admid 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.
And maybe that's all that we can really depend on. We count up the blessings and hope that they out-number the troubles. We lift our faces up in surrender, secure in the knowledge that God is over all. And, maybe -- just maybe -- if we wait patiently, we can see even those troubles turn into blessings.