Praise the Lord, my soul. All my inmost being, praise His holy name. Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all His benefits. (Psalm 103:1-2)
Girl Without A Father Counts Her Blessings
Heather Bermingham traveled with her youth group on a mission trip in New Orleans. They arrived on Father’s Day and Heather was missing her dad. He had died from a heart attack when she was 4 and now she was feeling sad again. He was a good guy who loved his wife and kids. Shortly before he died, he had committed his life to Christ. Heather wondered why God had taken him away and she was mourning all the things she missed. She never had a dad to cheer for her at softball games and had to find a substitute for father-daughter events. She was feeling wronged by the Lord and angry.
But Heather came to New Orleans to serve others. They were putting on a Bible school for the local kids and volunteering at a youth center. Now she wasn’t in the mood for happy God-talk and wanted this mission trip to be over. One day, Heather was helping 6-year-old Devin with his craft. He was loud, defiant, and angry. He wore a constant frown, but sometimes Heather could see that he was a sweet kid deep down. Devin was sad to hear that Heather was leaving at the end of the week. He asked, “Why do you have to go?” She explained, “I live in Alabama and have to go home.” Devin said that he never wanted to go home because no one there loved him.
Heather knew that these inner-city kids had it tough. Most were from broken homes. Some were being raised by grandparents because their parents were in jail or abandoned them. Many saw drug abuse and violence around them every day. Heather couldn’t tell Devin that things were fine at his house, so she said, “There are people here who love you. And God loves you an awful lot, too.” Devin grinned.
Suddenly, Heather felt ashamed. She’d wasted precious time that week pouting about what she didn’t have and she’d completely forgotten about all the good things in her life. She was going home to her mom and three brothers who loved her. When she said goodbye to Devin, he gave her a big hug, looked a little sad, and said he’d “probably” miss her. Even after a few years, Heather still prays that Devin will feel secure in someone’s love, especially God’s love.
I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder….You say grace before meals. All right. But I say grace before I open a book, before walking, playing, dancing, and before I dip the pen in the ink. I say grace before plowing fields, planting crops, working horses, and other tasks….When it comes to life the critical thing is whether you take things for granted or take them with gratitude.1
Heather is still sad about her dad and all she has missed. But when those moods come, she remembers Devin and his hard life. No matter how much she’s missing, she remembers that she is still very blessed in her family, her church, and her connection to Jesus Christ.2
Christ’s Followers are Blessed
Below I’ve listed some (not all) of the benefits Jesus’ believers receive from God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). I have only provided a few Scripture proofs and may add more on a later version of this post. I have numbered items for ease of discussion.
|Blessing||God’s Part/Role||Believer’s Part/Role|
|1. Election/Predestination||Father does it all (Acts 13:48; Rom 8:28-30; Eph 1:5,11)||We are passive and we praise Him|
|2. Atonement/Redemption||Jesus (God the Son) pays it all (2 Cor 5:21; Gal 3:13; 1 Pet 2:24)||We are passive and we praise Him|
|3. Effectual Calling + Regeneration (New Birth)||God the Spirit does it all (John 1:12-13, 3:3; Col 2:23)||We are passive and we praise Him|
|4. Justification||Spirit brings us pardon + acceptance with God (Rom 5:1-21)||We receive it by faith|
|5. Adoption||Spirit brings us into God’s family||We receive it by faith|
|6. Sanctification (3 stages)||Spirit works in us, changes us||We work it out (Phil 2:12-13)|
|7. Saving Faith||Spirit gives it as a gift (John 6:44,65)||We must exercise faith|
|8. Repentance Leading to Life||Spirit gives it as a gift (Acts 11:28)||We must exercise repentance|
|9. Good Works (After New Birth)||Spirit prepares them + enables us (Eph 2:10)||We do good works as fruit of salvation, not a cause|
|10. Preservation/Perseverance||Spirit preserves us to the end (Rom 8:29; Phil 1:6; Jude 1:24)||We must endure to the end (Mark 13:13; James 1:12; Rev 2-3)|
|11. Assurance of Grace + Salvation||Spirit gives us assurance (Rom 8:16)||We must not grieve the HS + hinder assurance (Eph 4:30)|
Don’t Take the Lord for Granted
Erik Hoffer says, “The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings.” That should not be true for Christians! The blessings above belong to every follower of Jesus, no matter how little or much we have or how good or bad we feel. Consider using this list to help you and others look up to God, especially when we and they are feeling down. Counting our blessings in Christ is important. It shows that we are grateful and appreciative for all God has done, is doing, and will do for us.
Johnson Oatman’s hymn reminds us:
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.
Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your many blessings, see what God has done.
Notes: 1 Adapted and expanded from Wendell Berry. 2 Heather Bermingham, “No Dad to Call,” Ignite Your Faith (2003).