Seeing Blessings

Johnson Oatman wrote a hymn which states: “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.Count your blessings, name them one by one; Count your blessings, see what God hath done; Count your blessings, name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.”  The counting of our blessings should be easy, but in an age of celebrity culture, instant gratification, and conspicuous consumption it is often the case that we can lose sight of Our blessings when we are looking at “the Jones’ blessings” we are figuratively “keeping up with.”

So how do we focus on God’s blessings in Our own lives?  The answer is not to play the checklist game of searching for the “wow” factor or looking for “good days” with worldly eyes.

The story is told, that some students approached their teacher with a question: “Rebbe, we are puzzled. It says in the Talmud that we must thank God as much for the bad days, as for the good. How can that be? What would our gratitude mean, if we gave it equally for the good and the bad?”

The teacher replied, “Go to Anapol and find Reb Zusya, he will have an answer for you.”

The students set out on their  journey  and when they arrived in Anapol, they asked where they might find Reb Zusya.  The were guided to the poorest street of the city. There, crowded between two small houses, they found a tiny shack, sagging with age.

When they entered, they saw Reb Zusya sitting at a bare table, reading a volume by the light of the only small window. “Welcome, my friends” he said. “Please pardon me for not getting up; I have injured my leg. May I offer you something to eat? I have a little bread and there is water if you would like.”

“No. We have come only to ask you a question. Our teacher told us you might help us understand: Why do our sages tell us to thank God as much for the bad days as for the good?”

Reb Zusya looked puzzled. “Me? I have no idea why he would have sent you to me. You see, I have never had a bad day. Every day God has given to me has been filled with blessings and miracles” (Adapted from Doug Lipman).

Blessings, material and spiritual abound in our lives.  Each day that we have life, is a day of blessing from God.  (see Ephesians 3:14-21 on Spiritual blessing).

Can you count your blessings as Oatman suggests? Do you see just the “life’s billows” or are you a Zusya?  “Count your blessings, name them one by one, And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.”

Padre

 

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