As we begin 2015, let us do so by reflecting on the hymn, ‘Count Your Blessings,’ by Rev. Johnson Oatman Jr. This hymn is considered to be his finest. It has been sung all over the world. The London Daily reported, “In South London the men sing it, the boys whistle it, and the women rock their babies to sleep on the hymn.” Why is this hymn so well loved by Christians of all ages? As one writer puts it, “Like a beam of sunlight it has brightened up dark places of the earth.” I guess another reason could be its lyrics:
“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 hath done.”
Yes, God has many surprises install for us. He is the God of all goodness and grace. Psalm eighty four verses eleven and twelve declare:
“For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. O LORD of hosts, blessed is the man that trusteth in thee.”
With such a promise, I believe this year will indeed be more blessed than last year. However to make 2015 a year of blessings, we must do three things.
First, we must reflect on the past year. As we remember 2014 it should fill our hearts with thanksgiving. The more we thank God for what we have; we will discover that we have a lot more to be grateful for. Cicero said, “A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all the other virtues.”
Second, we must also resolve to do better in 2015. As we reflect on our past, we will become aware of our failures and shortcomings. We should humbly ask our heavenly Father’s forgiveness. Someone said, “If you are headed in the wrong direction, God allows U-turns.” Therefore, we must resolve to move on with God. Like Daniel of old, we must purpose in our hearts not to compromise our faith and convictions (Dan. 1:8). We must also set some spiritual goals for ourselves just like the Apostle Paul did, “But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13, 14).
Finally, after we have reflected and resolved to do better, we need to rejoice in hope. Paul in Romans 5:1-5 expresses this attitude succinctly. When face with the present challenges of this life, Paul had a confident, bold assurance in God to keep his promise.
His hope was not a wishful thinking that something will somehow turn out the way he wanted. Though we face an uncertain future and are ignorant of life’s mysteries, yet we can confidently trust in our loving God who holds the future. One day, all the mysteries of life will be made known to us.
Dear brethren, let us count our blessings and look forward to a greater year ahead with joyful hope. “Now that we have actually received this amazing friendship with God, we are no longer content to simply say it in plodding prose. We sing and shout our praises to God through Jesus, the Messiah!” (Rom. 5: 10, 11 Msg.)
Rev. Mark Tay