Devotional: Count your blessings
Written by Ashley Grossman, online communications manager at The Salvation Army Northern Division
Let me start by asking one simple question: How has God blessed you today?
Go ahead. Take just a couple moments to think about that. If it makes it easier, write a list.
If coming up with answers seems like a challenge, you’re not alone. From the time we wake up to when we go to bed, it’s often the negative things that tend to capture our attention. But why should we let them when God provides everything we need?
Now, I’m going to stick my neck out here for just one second and talk about a hard truth: Christians are not immune from depression.
I can only guess what some of you may be thinking. “Why, yes. Of course Christians aren’t immune from depression. Next thing you’ll tell us is that the sky is blue.” To which I would say, fair point. But I am curious to know just how many Christians remember to think about God’s gifts instead of turning to despair when times are tough.
A few years ago I was meeting up with one of my closest friends when we got to talking about our favorite people and businesses to follow on social media. What started out as a lighthearted conversation slowly became heavy. My friend admitted to me that she often felt like her life wasn’t keeping pace with the rest of her friends, citing her dissatisfaction in her job and inability to travel someplace beautiful after another friend shared pictures of a recent trip. In the same vein, I couldn’t help but empathize with her. How many times had I thought “I wish I could do that” or “I wish my life looked like hers/his” or even “how am I to overcome my burdens?”
It comes as no surprise, but life can be hard, and trying, and downright frustrating. Things don’t always go the way we want them to and it can be difficult for us to remember that God’s love is always with us.
In these moments, Psalm 34:1 ESV holds the key to our happiness.
I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall continually be in my mouth.
We see this reminder again in Philippians verse 4:4 NIV. As Paul is nearing the end of his letter to the church at Philippi, he encourages his readers to focus on the positive, which is a persistent theme in his letters.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice.
And later in Philippians 4:8 NIV:
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things.
With the wisdom of Psalm 34 and Paul’s letter in mind, we need to develop a habit of counting our blessings not only when things get tough, but when we are also at our happiest. Doing so will revitalize your soul and help you see that God has bestowed upon you more love than you realize. Plus, practice makes perfect. The more you recognize God’s gifts for what they are, the easier it will be to fall back on those blessings when you need them most.
Today I challenge you to set aside some time and list what God has done for you. Be specific. Think through every area of your life. Work backwards if it makes it easier. Reflect on His blessings over the past year. Now go back five years. You get the idea.
As for me, I keep a daily reminder pinned to a cork board in my office. It’s an ever-present prompt encouraging me to follow yet another nugget of wisdom from the book of Psalms [read related devotional]:
This is the day the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. – Psalm 118:24 NIV
Faith in Action
The next time you speak with a friend or family member going through a tough time, encourage them to think about the ways God has blessed them in their lives. Sometimes people need a little help to realize the gifts they’ve been given.
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