In this season, as we face the pandemic and its unpredictable effects, how do we maintain our sanity?
Some few weeks ago, in my Bible study class, we discussed our attitude as Christians when giving thanks to God. We had a fascinating discussion that day. Most of us were hurt whenever we showed acts of kindness to people who either did not express any gratitude or simply undermined our actions. We had all experienced a lack of appreciation from people to the extent that it almost deterred us from showing further acts of kindness.
When we threw the spotlight off ourselves back to God, we were utterly ashamed; because we realized it was the exact thing we were doing to God.
We don’t shout His praises or dance around when He does seemingly “simple” things for us – like waking us up every morning, taking us to the grocery store and back. No, those things are too simple and mundane to elicit a joyful celebration to God.
We are waiting for God to accomplish the BIGGER, GREATER tasks before we dance in praise and thank Him.
The Jews have a tradition of counting a hundred blessings each day. I read somewhere that the story behind this tradition was during the reign of King David. A terrible plague took the lives of 100 people every day. The rabbis of the time instituted a rule of reciting 100 blessings every day. The plague immediately stopped. Whether or not this story is true, I wondered if I could count 100 blessings in a day? How is that possible? When we become conscious that even using the potty is an opportunity to be thankful that our kidneys function correctly, we can become mindful of seemingly “little” blessings. Blessings like seeing, talking, listening, moving our arms and legs, and many other “minor” blessings that we enjoy every day.
Whether we have a job or not, whether married or single, whether billions in the account or nothing, no matter our situation, let us endeavor to cultivate an attitude of thanksgiving.
What of all our many dreams and unfulfilled expectations? Some years ago, I worked with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) in remote villages in Africa.
Most of these villages did not have access to basic amenities such as electricity, water, health care, or even good roads. The town folks were generally happy, yet they looked forward excitedly to receiving these basic amenities in the hopes of becoming even more joyful. Most of us reading this article may have some access to electricity and internet connection. Yet, quite obviously, having those amenities does nothing to our desire of wanting more in life. We are never satisfied as humans beings; we simply want more no matter what heights of the social ladder.
Therefore, it is a fact that regardless of where we find ourselves in the seven continents of this world- in Asia, Africa, Europe, North America, South America, Australia, or Antarctica, we will always want more. The key to maintaining our sanity despite our ever-wanting needs is an attitude of thankfulness.
Anytime we feel down and hopeless-let us try this one thing- count our blessings. It is easier for us to remember all our difficulties and hardships, and you cannot blame us. Remembering the blessings is a battle. Yet when we strive to make that conscious effort to recognize those blessings, it makes a world of difference in our lives, especially in keeping our sanity.
Suicide breaks my heart into a thousand pieces. If the victims of suicide could thank God for the opportunity to be alive and trust God to deal with the situations they were facing, then maybe they wouldn’t have ended their lives. Just being alive is the most important thing. Wise King Solomon said, “Anyone who is among the living has hope- even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!” Ecclesiastes 9.4 (NIV)
In 1897, Johnson Oatman wrote this hymn, which has become an all-time favorite in the world.
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 blessings, see what God has done!
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your many blessings see what God has done
[And it will surprise you what the Lord has done]
Let us make this our familiar song, especially as we continue to battle the pandemic amongst the many devastating effects on economies, jobs, families, etc. As we cultivate an attitude of thanksgiving, our present trials will fade compared to the blessings that have been bestowed on us by God.
We may not get 100 blessings every day, but we can get close to the number. For as long as we have breath, one of the sure ways to maintain our sanity is to cultivate an attitude of being grateful for the smallest, most insignificant things in life.