Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Name Them One by One

On this Thanksgiving Eve, the words to “Count Your Many Blessings” are rolling around in my head.

According to 101 Hymn Stories by Kenneth Osbeck, Johnson Oatman wrote this hymn around 1897. Popular in England at the time and sung frequently during the Welsh revivals, I doubt Oatman, who wrote more than 5,000 hymn lyrics in his lifetime, could have envisioned its appeal lasting now for more than one hundred and ten years.

Since the hymn's now in public domain, I'll share the first verse which I love: “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. “

Misty enjoying Edison's work
It seems I don’t have much trouble enumerating my troubles to God. But a thankful list? That I need to work on. How long would it take, and what surprises might I find along the way? It’d be easy for me to hit the big things like family, and home, but just today, I was noticing how different it is in the house when we replaced one burnt out light bulb. Thank you Lord, for Thomas Edison. (By the way, did you know his last words when he woke from a nap days before his death were “It’s very beautiful over there?”)

I think the point of the verse in “Count Your Many Blessings” is that when we’re low, and when we’ve lost our hope, counting our blessings refocuses our lives on God’s gracious love and goodness toward us. Eugene Peterson translates I Thessalonians 5:18 this way, “...thank God no matter what happens. This is the way God wants you who belong to Christ Jesus to live.”

“Thank God no matter what happens.” Lord, please help me remember to do just that, and somehow in the next couple of days I’m going to take a shot at naming my blessings one by one.

Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

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