“Count your many blessings. Name them one by one.”
Yes, our daily lives, even in the midst of a pandemic, are filled with blessings.
History tells us the people who celebrated the first Thanksgiving likely experienced a plethora of perils. Nonetheless, they focused on their blessings. Their cups were more than half full.
In Meadow Rue Merrill’s picture book The Thanksgiving Blessing, Molly’s family reminds her that, in spite of their many troubles, the pilgrims found a reason to sing praises to God. Molly and her cousin Jacob learn that “Thanksgiving is more than turkey and mashed potatoes and a table full of tasty pies. Thanksgiving is thanking God for His many blessings. And that is something everyone can share.”
Aunt Jenny tells Molly and her family the pilgrims likely sang the words to Psalm 100 as they thanked God for their blessings. This “Doxology” encourages us, as well, to “make a joyful noise unto the Lord.”
This November we need to “enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise; be thankful unto Him, and bless His name.”
I was reflecting on Aunt Jenny’s “Doxology” a few days ago when I was out running errands. As I traveled down a divided highway, I literally saw clouds to the left of me and sunshine to the right of me, but I was in the middle traveling with God. I had the option to focus on the darkness to my left or the Light to my right. Focusing on the Sonshine, I, like those pilgrims, found many reasons to sing praises to God.
Mercer Mayer’s Being Thankful provides another great reminder of why we should stop complaining about what we don’t have and start being thankful for our blessings.
In this story Little Critter longs for a Speed Blaster ZZ scooter with silver wheels, even though he already has a perfectly good scooter. He wishes he had brand-new AR Flyer sneakers to replace his plain old blue ones. As the story progresses, Little Critter continues to complain. Later, when his grandmother gives him a “thankful rock,” she helps him understand what it means to have gratitude.
Grandpa says, “Sometimes when I forget, I look at my thankful rock and I praise God for His goodness and for all the things I’m grateful for—like you, Little Critter!”
When Little Critter shares his new-found attitude of gratitude with Little Sister, they both learn the importance of being thankful.
“When I start wishing for stuff, I look at the rock and remember all the good stuff I already have,” Little Critter says. “Then I start feeling happy again, Try it. You’ll see.”
I often worry about coming up with an idea for my next blog, but like Little Critter, I simply need to remember all the good stuff God gives me. He always, always comes through.
I had already chosen Little Critter’s thankful rock as a theme for my November blog when I started reading Laura L. Smith’s book How Sweet the Sound. Her opening comments about family in the chapter on “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” moved me to tears. This song has always been one of my favorites, and I am truly blessed with a wonderful family.
In this particular devotion Laura asks me, the reader, how God has been there for me and how I might better remember His presence in my life. She then gives several examples of how characters in the Old Testament used rocks to represent their blessings: Samuel sets up a monument to God for saving the Israelites from the Philistine army, Jacob marks the spot where he had his face-to-face encounter with God, and Moses erects a monument at the foot of Mt. Sinai. These Ebenezers (meaning stones of help) are like Little Critter’s “thankful rock.”
Lord, I am so thankful that you are my Rock!
Laura L. Smith’s devotion on “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” Psalm 100, Little Critter’s thankful rock, and the Thanksgiving holiday all remind me to count my blessings—to “tune my heart to sing thy grace” and never to cease appreciating God’s “streams of mercy.”
This month consider placing some kind of “thankful rock” or post-it note in a prominent place to remind you to count your own blessings. Before bedtime you might ask your child to place thankful rocks (maybe polished stones from a dollar store) inside a jar as a way of counting the blessings of the day. This could be a great prompt for nighttime prayers.
In The Berenstain Bears book Give Thanks, Grizzly Gramps leads his family in a beautiful prayer, one we might all consider offering during this Thanksgiving season: “Dear Lord, we give thanks for all your blessings—for this great feast that you have provided, for the warm homes that give us shelter, for the love of our family that surrounds us today, and for all the beauties of the earth that you in your great love and wisdom have created. Amen!”
“Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.”—1 Chronicles 16:34
“Cultivate the habit of being grateful for every good thing that comes to you, and to give thanks continuously. And because all things have contributed to your advancement, you should include all things in your gratitude.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson
“Piglet noticed that even though he had a Very Small Heart, it could hold a rather large amount of Gratitude.”—A. A. Milne
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; Ezra 3:11; Psalm 9:1