We are so blessed. So, so blessed.
I think the extent to which we are blessed is too often overlooked. Perhaps once or twice a year we really dwell on our blessings, quite often around Thanksgiving, or maybe Christmas. But those times can be oddly distorting to our perception of the many gifts in our lives. Sometime we are so blinded by our good health, our good fortune, and our bounty of friends and good food, that we never get past those more-tangible blessings and gaze upon the more subtle, and more profound ones.
For example, we need to remember that we are blessed by God to be in possession of our good intentions, our desires to serve and any wisdom we attain. If we are eager to learn more about God and His character, He has bestowed that desire upon us. If we are consistent and fervent in our studying, He has gifted us with that steadiness. And when we learn more about who He is and His truths, He has revealed that to us.
We are blessed to have a God who holds us so dearly, that He insists on disciplining us, as a Father disciplines his children. Oft times in the modern church, the idea that God disciplines us is viewed as archaic and brutish. But discipline isn't the work of a brute: it's the work of a God who will not suffer those He loves to ever fall away from His hold. It isn't beating us down until we submit, but rather helping us attain a desire to submit to His perfect ways. Shane & Shane's song Though You Slay Me beautifully depicts this in their lyrics: "You strike down to bind me up, You say You do it all in love, that I might know You in Your suffering."
This discipline "yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it," (Heb. 12:11) and is a gift to us, because those who are left without discipline, scripture refers to as illegitimate children, and not sons (Heb. 12:8). We are instructed to, "endure hardship as discipline," and that hardship may come in many forms, but when it comes we need to examine what in our lives God may need to correct us in, to respond appropriately with repentance and reformation, and to thank the Lord for His faithful love which is not content to allow us to continue in our sinful ways.
We are blessed by what God teaches us through our trials. When money is tight, we should praise God for the lesson in stewardship! When we feel unappreciated and like we're the only ones striving to keep the house clean, we can thank the Lord for the chance to embrace a true servant's heart. When we encounter issues with out health, or our children's health, perhaps God is helping us to understand how to cope, so that in turn we can be blessed to assist others when they are faced with similar issues.
We are blessed by the gifts God gives us, even though we sometimes forget how badly we want them. As a mother of young children, by about the seventh time the toddler is screaming at only 9:30 a.m., it can occasionally be tricky to remember that we want to stay home with our children and raise them, but God hasn't forgotten. He knows that's where our hearts lie. And when we're picking up that cup on the counter that somehow, yet again, evaded being put in the empty dishwasher by our spouse once he was done with it, God knows that we're infinitely happier having that spouse in our lives, than we would be if he were taken away (dirty dishes and all). And on those good days when our husbands are affectionate and helpful, and our children's faces, and attitudes, are shining and cherub-like, it's infinitely easier to be grateful for them, but even in those moments of frustration, they are still a blessing, and the opportunity to walk with them through the most stressful times are a blessing in themselves.
Turkey and fun times aside, we are richly blessed, and sometimes we are so blessed that we are blinded by our wealth. But in reality, if we were left with our turkeys, and our friends, and our warm houses and nice clothes, but without these gifts of greater importance and our eternal inheritance, we would be utterly destitute. So it's funny, in a very sad way, that it's often much easier to be grateful for the tangible gifts we have than the eternal ones.
Every breath, every moment, every joy, and every trial, is a gift to us from God. He is Sovereign in what He had brought to us in our lives, and we are responsible for how we respond to those opportunities.
So rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice - He has richly blessed us.
To God be the glory, forever and ever, Amen.