“Count your blessings” is an expression most of us know pretty well. It was made famous among us by an old hymn, “Count Your Blessings,” that you may not have heard or sung recently. Early on, after the hymn was published, it was especially popular in Great Britain, where it was said, “The men sing it, the boys whistle it, and the women rock their babies to sleep on this hymn.”
But that expression “count your blessings” is often misused. It doesn’t mean to deny that you’re having problems, challenges, or disappointments. It doesn’t mean, “Cheer up and act like everything is fine.” No, that expression, even in the context of the hymn, actually encourages us to admit that we’re “tempest-tossed” and “burdened with a load of care” but, despite our trials, we have blessings to count too.
So how has God blessed you? When you answer the question, don’t just look at God’s material blessings. After all, they pass away. Instead, look also at His spiritual blessings, which are eternal and available now and always to believers in Christ. Of course, to be able to recount how God has blessed us we have to know and appreciate what His blessings are. What are those blessings that we can always count?
With that in mind, turn to Ephesians 1.3-14. That passage is a good place to start “counting your blessings.” It’s actually one long sentence in the original language, broken up by the refrain “to the praise of His glory.” Let’s walk through it and see what’s there.
The Apostle Paul begins in verse 3 with what we might describe as a “Call to Worship,” praising God as the One from Whom all blessings flow. Wow. What a place to begin: with God! He is our blessedness! And Paul invites us to reflect with him on what each Person of the Trinity has done for us who are His people.
We’re called in verses 4-6 to remember what God the Father has done. Paul says, “Focus your attention on the blessings of being chosen and adopted by the grace of God our Father.” So, to paraphrase what the old hymn says: “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 [might] surprise you” what God the Father has done for you!
Paul then calls on us in verses 7-10 to review what God the Son has done. He reminds us of the blessings of being redeemed by Christ and of knowing God’s purpose in Christ, the Eternal Son. Reminded of these glorious blessings, the lyrics of the hymn bring us back from our trials to our blessedness: “When you look at others with their lands and gold, / think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold. / Count your many blessings money cannot buy, / your reward in heaven nor your home on high.” Count your blessings, believer: see what God the Son has done for you!
Finally, we’re called in verses 11-14 to mediate on what God the Spirit has done. Here Paul draws our attention to the blessings of being appointed as God’s heirs and of being fully and finally secure through God the Spirit. So, as that old hymn says, “amid the conflict whether great or small, / do not be discouraged, God is over all. / Count your many blessings, angels will attend, / help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.” Count your blessings, Christian: see what God the Spirit has done for you!
There are times in life when we’re better at counting our burdens than at counting our blessings. We’re “tempest-tossed” and “burdened with a load of care.” Despite our trials, don’t ever forget: we have blessings to count too.
Remember, Christian: your glorious Benefactor is none other than God in Three Persons, the blessed Trinity. So, especially if you’re tempest-tossed or burdened, count your blessings: see what God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit have done for you!