So what is a blessing anyway? The Encarta Dictionary gives us these examples: Help that is believed to come from God or another deity; a religious act bestowing blessings on others; a prayer of thanks before a meal, approval or good wishes or something fortunate that has come your way for which you are glad or relieved about.
Wow – do we need all those words to define a blessing? Most of us would agree that a blessing is something fortunate that has happened for which we are thankful. We think of them in the moment as a relief from pressure, good news when we could only see bad news, an unexpected ray of sunshine in an otherwise dismal world.
I have discovered, however, that many blessings come disguised and are only realized at a later time.
Sometimes they are hidden in events that at the time we would consider disasters. Sometimes we discover them within losses where we are forced to face our own vulnerability and need for God; where we are challenged to rethink what is really important in life.
These blessings often require purposeful searching to uncover them. But when we do, we are blessed with a depth of understanding and gratefulness we wouldn’t have had without the adversity we were confronted with.
I am thankful for being alive. Yet, being alive is something I often take for granted until faced with death. If you have dealt with cancer, watched a child struggle to live, or have missed a tragedy by seconds, being alive has a new depth of meaning that most of us seldom think about. It forces us to rethink our values.
Modern medicine has enabled me to walk, replacing two hips and fusing a back. I am thankful for good health and the challenges to remain healthy. Yet, I struggle with doing the things I need to do to remain healthy. I need to remind myself that I am blessed to be able to do the exercises that will keep me healthy.
Gratefulness is a lifelong habit that will bless us every day. But it does require exercise.
How would you describe your life? What are you thankful for? Is life just one set of problems after another? Or does life truly have more meaning that just being able to take that next breath when you came so close to never breathing again? Perhaps your thankfulness is deeper than most of us because you just avoided a life-threatening tragedy. You can remind us to be thankful.
It is so easy to focus on all the things that go wrong and in the process, continue to nurse our grievances. We look at problems as intrusions in our life instead of challenges to live more productive and happy lives.
In comparing ourselves to others we only see what we don’t have and fail to see all the things we do have. But when we change our focus, our life takes on a whole new dimension.
Have you started writing down your blessings yet? I challenge you. You will be blessed in the exercise.