Count Your Blessings

  • Nov. 19, 2014
  • #7493

A woman with leprosy requests a hymn of thanksgiving, reminding us all to express gratitude for God’s many blessings.

Hi, I’m Joni Eareckson Tada and today let’s count our blessings…

That’s a good thing to do, what with Thanksgiving right around the corner. And I have a great story to help you along as you count the many blessings God has given you over this past year. It’s a true story relayed to me by my friend Nancy Leigh DeMoss. She tells of a church group from North Carolina that traveled to the Caribbean on a mission trip. As part of the week-long outreach, their host took the group to a leper colony on the island of Tobago – it’s an island far away from the usual places where cruise ships dock. It was hot, it was tropical, and it was humid. It was, in fact, a glimpse of what life is really like on many of the Caribbean islands. While at the leper colony, the church group attended a worship service in the chapel on the campus. As you can imagine, the sight of the emaciated lepers filing into their seats on the bare, wooden pews touched the heart of each American there – none of them were fully prepared for the scene.

The visiting pastor of this church group helped lead the time of worship, and when he asked if anyone in the crowd of lepers had a favorite hymn they would like to sing, a lone patient seated awkwardly on the back row, and facing away from the front, slowly turned her body, with great effort, in the pastor’s direction. (I use the word body as a generous description of what remained of this woman’s body. Her face had no nose and no lips – just bare teeth yellow, askew within a chalky skull.) And yet, raising her bony nub of an arm to see if she might be called on to make a request, she appealed with a croaky voice, “Could we sing ‘Count Your Many Blessings?’”

The first time I heard Nancy relay this story, oh my goodness, it left tears in my eyes – as it’s doing now. Leave it to a grotesquely deformed leper to remind us all that grateful people are characterized by thankful words, while ungrateful people are known for their murmuring and complaining. Philippians chapter 2, verse 14 says to do everything, everything without complaining. Isn’t that amazing? God really does think it’s possible for us to do everything without complaining. Now to us that may seem a total impossibility, but remember with God, all things—even a consistently grateful spirit—are possible.

So as you get ready to celebrate Thanksgiving next week, think about opening your hymnal and making copies of the song “Count Your Blessings” and then, make a plan to distribute these copies around your Thanksgiving table after dinner and either read the words aloud or sing:

“Are you ever burdened with a load of care? Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear? Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly, And you will keep singing as the days go by.”

I think it would be a great way for you and your family to express gratitude to God for all the many blessings He’s showered on you this past year.

And finally, don’t forget Philippians chapter 2, verse 14. Do everything without complaining. Some grumble at why God puts thorns on roses. But others notice with awestruck wonder, that God has put roses among the thorns. Today, speak more words of thankfulness rather than words of complaint and you can start by counting your blessings. Visit to Tweet today’s program to your friends.

© Joni and Friends


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