Count your Blessings— Nov 25
With COVID 19 numbers and new cases still sky high, we are back to streaming worship only at Twin Falls. We’re thankful for the blessing that we CAN still worship in this way! We’re eager both to have those helping bring the music and service to you with us at the building, and to also be with the rest of you joining us via our streaming service. Yet even now, we still have an abundance of blessings to count and give thanks for, if only we can lift our eyes from the dreary to see a bigger picture.
Not long ago, Karol and I were on the road somewhere on a cold, dreary, rainy day like today. Approaching a construction zone on a narrow road, we passed close enough by the first flagger to see the droplets of water coming off her hard hat, sometimes in her face, sometimes down her back. She had the most miserable look on her face, having to be out in that mess all day.
At the other end of the construction zone, we again came close enough to the flagger to see another young adult, also dripping wet in the same cold rain. But despite the same long day standing soggy in the cold, her expression was definitely not one of misery. I may have almost seen a smile there instead. Same cold, wet day, standing all day on the side of the road, but a different enough reaction I could see it passing by in my truck.
I wasn’t able to stop and chat to ease my curiosity to know the difference between the two. But in my line of work, I’ve seen that same difference in many others enough to be able to make an educated guess on that difference. As a pastor and Army Chaplain, I’ve been fascinated seeing that difference a lot, and often in situations much worse than just having to work out in the rain and cold one day. It usually comes down to whatever it is we focus on.
The soggy, miserable flagger was likely focusing on her immediate discomfort, and the rainy day stretching ahead promising more misery. But just passing quickly by, I couldn’t even a guess at the other worker’s focus. I doubt it was the cold and rain, though, and I bet it included counting some kind of blessing. Maybe she was just happy to have a job and not be cooped up inside with the pandemic raging. Maybe she could count the blessing of the pride she could take in a job well done, or maybe she lives on a farm, and is thankful for the rain coming now after harvest rather than during. She may have even been living in the blessing of being able to pray for the safety of her team and for those driving by.
“Count your blessings, name them one by one, count your blessings, see what God has done…” is the chorus of a wonderful old song, reminding us not of the times we feel blessed or like giving thanks, but even when we are “thinking all is lost,” reminding us amid challenges “great or small, do not be discouraged, God is over all.” The magic of God’s peace only just starts with my kids’ favorite prayer, “Thank you God for everything,” but it’s deepened and grows to God’s peace that passes all understanding when we name those blessings “one by one.”
In fact, there’s a recently validated scientifically proven formula for making God’s peace real in our lives (something we church folk have known for millennia), found in Philippians 4: 4-8. It can be summarized by a few words—rejoice in the Lord always, don’t worry, pray with thanksgiving, “and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds…and be with you.” Try it if you don’t believe the science or the scriptures, and let me know what you find out!
Count your blessings, name them one by one—and be thankful! Pastor Jim