The theme for this month is the blessings of God. We’re often exhorted to ‘count our blessings’, often when we have tried to complain about something or when we are struggling. And it doesn’t always seem awfully compassionate to be told to count our blessings when we’re not okay.
At those times when we’re just flat out whingeing, then we all need the proverbial kick. And we’ve probably all done our fair share of whingeing at one time or another! But feeling that we are struggling and expressing our unhappiness is very valid indeed. It’s vital! And equally vital is the compassionate response, the listening ear, the person who sees us, who hears our cry, and who stands or sits with us in the suffering.
Good friends (and parents) do that. God does that too.
But it can help to get a bit of perspective on things – and that’s where counting blessings can actually be very wise advice. Remembering our blessings – the good things in our lives – doesn’t take away the current pain or struggle, but it does help to re-frame it and give it context. Humans are hard-wired to see and express the negative. But what about the good? That can too easily get forgotten or brushed aside.
There are always blessings, if we have the eyes to see and the space to watch for them. Sometimes our vision is clouded by things we wish were not so, and at those times it’s hard to see the good.
God is one who laments with us, and rejoices with us. He guides and supports us, he walks alongside us, He has compassion on us in our struggles and suffering. And above all, God is the one who blesses us. Whether that blessing is the presence of a friend when we needed it most, the kindness of a stranger, a meal when we were hungry, money when we had none, the person who lifts the burden from us and gives us respite, or that sense of utter peace in our hearts even when everything is falling to pieces around us. God blesses us directly, and through others.
How many times have I been blessed by God through the words and actions of others! Beyond counting.
And how many times may I have blessed others, perhaps without knowing it, by listening to the inner prompting of the Spirit? I don’t know. Maybe I don’t need to know. But even as I bless, then I am blessed.
I think it helps sometimes to think of God as one who blesses in this gentle way of compassion and presence, rather than expecting fanfares and trumpets and magical transformation from the outside. God can do that too – and I am privileged to have seen it – but mostly God’s blessing is quiet, unassuming, and at the same time completely transforms the situation from within.
May you know God’s blessing in your life: may you have the eyes to see it, and the hands to give it, and the heart to give thanks for it, wherever you may experience it.
Peace and blessings,