Count Your Many Blessings; Name Them One By One
We tend to measure our blessings according to what we already have rather than the life God has given us. Our Father’s thoughts are not our thoughts, nor are His ways our ways.
Suppose we drift towards the comparative structure of societal materialism, allowing social media feeds and nightly news reports to determine how satisfied we are with the status quo of our lives. In that case, we’ll embark on a never-ending quest of never enough.
When I was young, the hymn Count Your Blessings bothered me. I thought the idea of the song was to spend time counting all the good things in my life; it felt like bragging to me.
My misunderstanding of this song stemmed from not paying as close attention to the verse as I did to the chorus.
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.
Life tends to be unpredictable. We might not know what tomorrow will bring, but we can hold on to the promise that He, who holds each of us in the palm of His hand, will guide us through it. When life gets chaotic and routine becomes out of whack, focus on your blessings.
The writer of this hymn, Johnson Oatman, Jr., was born on April 21, 1856. When Johnson was a child, he loved to listen to his father sing. Although he couldn’t match his dad’s voice, he grew up wanting to create the same musical influences in their community. He envied his father’s ability to contribute to others’ lives simply by vocalizing a song or hymn.
Many of us can relate to Johnson, I often wish for the talents of other people and overlook my own talents.
Johnson’s life had been passed from one experience to another. He worked in the family business for a time but soon gave up those opportunities and began studying for the ministry. After completing school and ministering in the Methodist Episcopal churches, he continued hoping that life surely had other plans for him.
At the age of 36, he realized that he did, without question, have a musical talent at the same level but different from his father’s. He could write songs for other Christians to sing. So, each year, some 200 songs flowed from his pen. Ultimately, he wrote 5,000 songs and was happy that he had found his calling.
Oatman wrote many songs, but he seemed to consider “No, Not One” and “Higher Ground” his favorites. However, people everywhere seem to have adopted another of his very special songs, “Count Your Blessings,” written in 1897. It quickly became a favorite in many Christian communities. Oatman died in Norman, Okla. in 1922, but his songs continue to minister to millions.
I recently underwent a surgical procedure. I have also discussed before that I am prone to anxiety, and the stress surrounding the surgery contributed to my general sense of unease.
Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings; ev’ry doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by.
I am the Technology Specialist, which is normally quite a simple calling, and I was duty-bound to support a conference for Service Missionaries. This conference was broadcast to many churches and homes throughout the Southwest region, with remote speakers in attendance. And it was scheduled for the Saturday before my surgery.
My stress level peaked on Wednesday night, before the conference; unfortunately, I reacted to this stress in uncharacteristic ways. Including speaking my mind to the Elder in charge of the conference.
So amid 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.
After apologizing and kneeling to pray the spirit comforted me, and I was prompted to read my patriarchal blessing. Among others, one passage was particularly poignant. Which say’s,
“Fill your life with service. Be truly your brother’s keeper. True happiness lies in the desire to give, whereas, unhappiness lies in the desire to get. One’s life is not so enriched by that which one receives, rather by that which one gives. Give freely give willingly of your time, your talent, your means, your education, your energy in behalf of others.”
Sometimes the Lord does not give us what we think we want, but he always gives us what we need. And what I needed was to stop thinking about myself and serve. And in so doing, I was served in return which assisted the Lord in lightening my burden. This conference took me out of myself and let me focus on others. Which eased my constant worry about my upcoming surgery.
Friends, even though we should always strive to have gratitude, this time of year is a great opportunity to look at our lives from a grateful perspective. As you enjoy the feasts many of you will share with your family and friends, remember to do as Johnson Oatman suggests.
Count your blessings; Name them one by one.
Count your blessings; See what God hath done.
Count your blessings; Name them one by one.
Count your many blessings; See what God hath done.