“O God, animate us to cheerfulness. May we have a joyful sense of our blessings” (William Ellery Channing).
BLESSINGS ARRIVE SO OFTEN IN OUR LIVES THAT IT’S HARD TO CATCH UP WITH OUR EVER-INCREASING DEBT OF GRATITUDE. Just when we think we’ve made an appreciative inventory of the good things we’ve been blessed with, more good things show up. As somebody said, counting our blessings is an arithmetic that’s hard to master. We could all use a more “joyful sense of our blessings.”
Occasionally we refer to some grace we’ve received as a “mixed” blessing. But really, there is no other kind. Most blessings require some sort of sacrifice. The price is often well worth paying, considering the benefit, but the fact remains, some things have to be relinquished in order for other things to be gained. And not only that, most blessings have some responsibilities attached to them. In the real world, very few of our blessings are pure, unalloyed pleasure — most come mixed with sacrifice and responsibility. There is, as they say, no free lunch.
Out of all the things that we’d consider our blessings, the best are surely the people we’ve had the privilege of knowing and interacting with. In each of our lives, there are at least a few people who have been such a blessing that we’d say it would have been worth being born into the world just to have the opportunity to know those people. In most of our lives, in fact, there are several such people.
Without a doubt, all of us have been blessed. But more important than the fact of having been blessed is the opportunity to be a blessing to others. However we would define the “good life,” there should be something in our definition that involves adding a touch of grace to someone else’s life. And of all the skills we might want to have, none is more valuable than the skill “to soothe and to bless.”
Dear Lord, for all in pain
We pray to thee;
O come and smite again
Give to thy servants skill,
To soothe and to bless,
And to the tired and ill