Have You Counted your Blessings?
Count your blessings. Have you heard of this phrase before, to count your blessings? Oftentimes, it’s used to help us remember what we ought to be thankful for. It’s helpful to remind ourselves how God has worked in our lives, so it’s a very helpful practice.
And actually, it’s something that God would consider quite important. Particularly, if you examine the ways in which God has rescued the ways God has helped, the ways God has blessed his people. After doing so, time and time again, we see that the people of God, they tend to forget, a heart of gratitude is replaced with a heart of entitlement, and a heart full of rumbles and complaints.
Have you ever done something nice for someone but eventually they forget? How does that make you feel? God has to go through this all the time, generation after generation. Let’s take the story of the Exodus.
The Blessing of Being Led out of Egypt
At the end of Genesis, the people of God, the family of Jacob, go into a foreign land called Egypt. They multiply greatly. The Pharaoh was threatened by how many Israelites, how many Hebrews there are. He puts the Hebrews into very oppressive slavery to the point where the Jews, they’re groaning and crying out to God to save them. God, he hears these words, he hears these cries, and he’s concerned about them.
From that point on, God selects Moses, gives him the word that through Moses he does the work of delivering his people out of slavery, and on route to the promised land. Now, how does God do this work? God does it in amazing ways.
God uses the 10 plagues, turning water into blood, sending locusts and a fog of darkness, and eventually even the death of the firstborn, also known as the night of the Passover. God uses miracle signs and wonders, amazing things, to deliver his people out of slavery and on the way to the promised land where they can worship God.
Isn’t that amazing? If you were an Israelite, wouldn’t you be in awe and wonder? Wouldn’t you be thankful to God for delivering you out of Egypt?
And that’s what happened. As they were delivered out, they were grateful as they were delivered out. They were now able to escape the suffering, the oppression that they faced in Egypt. What ends up happening, as amazing as the ways in which God worked to deliver them out was, it didn’t take long for them to forget that it was God who delivered them out. That God parted the sea, God who led them with a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire.
An Ill, Complaining Heart
Because as they traveled out from Egypt, what started to happen? They grumbled and complained as they were led out of Egypt. What did they now complain about? “God, there’s no food. You brought us out here to die.” How does that make any sense? God who could deliver his people out of slavery, part the sea, and yet the people doubted if they would have enough food.
But nevertheless, God rained down manna from heaven for them to eat. But as they were eating this manner, they started complaining again. “God, we’re thirsty.” And so Moses hit a rock, and out of that rock came water to quench their thirst. As they now had their fill, now had something to drink, they started complaining about how repetitive the food was. “This manna is all we eat”, this bread from heaven. So God heard their complaints, and gave them quail. They can now eat meat.
Where were the hearts of the Israelites? “We prefer the spices back in Egypt, we preferred the food back in Egypt.” They were never thankful for the ways in which God was guiding them, but always being quick to forget about God, and longing for the past. As they approached the promised land, the land flowing with milk and honey, they encountered these giants called the nephilim.
They got scared and they started crying out, “God brought us out here to die. We look like grasshoppers compared to these Nephilim.” And so that’s what took place. That’s the very attitude, the response that the people had towards God, the very God who delivered them out of slavery was now the recipient of grumbles about food, grumbles about water, grumbles about the type of food and grumbles that God brought them out of Egypt just to kill them.
Put yourself in God’s position. You deliver your people out only for people to quickly forget and to grumble and complain. How do you think God feels? Let’s take a look at an example of a covenant that God desires to make with His people. It starts off by God reminding them how faithful God had been to rescue them.
God's Reminder to His People and a New Promised Blessing
In Exodus 19:3-6 it says, “Then Moses went up to God. And the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, ‘This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob. And once you are to tell the people of Israel, you yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagle’s wings and brought you to myself.
Now, if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations, you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.’
We see that God desires to bless His people, even though they’re complaining about everything. God desires to bless them and he reminds them about how he carried His people on eagle’s wings and brought his people out of Egypt and to himself.
So as God proposes a covenant, the very people of God, they agree to that covenant. “We will do everything the Lord has said.” That’s what they say. And they confirm the covenant that they would obey, that they would keep it. Sounds pretty good, right? But just a few chapters later, we go from Exodus 19, where God proposes the covenant that He will bless them, if they obey Him to Exodus chapter 32 to see that they completely forgot about the covenant.
Unfaithfulness and the Forgotten Covenant
They don’t trust God. One of the criteria of the covenant in Exodus 20 was the 10 commandments. The second commandment describes that you shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below.
So don’t worship, don’t pray to idols. It sounds simple enough. But you go to Exodus 32. Moses was up on the mountains for a little bit too long for their liking. And what did Aaron and the rest of the Israelite community do?
They gathered all their precious jewelry, their goal to cast an idol. Then they started worshiping. Imagine that God desires to bless His people, God reminds them that they were carried out on eagle’s wings. And yet in a matter of a few chapters, they completely forget about God and turn their back on God. In Deuteronomy, it talks about how the Israelites forget about God. Deuteronomy 32:18 says, “You deserted the Rock, who fathered you; you forgot the God who gave you birth.” As people worshipped idols, other gods, false gods, it became so clear how short their memory was, and how unfaithful they were.
For example, let’s say you help a friend who’s really down on their luck. They’re broke. They’re homeless. You go out of your way to help them, and buy them new clothes. You let them crash in your house. You feed them every time your family eats, prepare a meal for them to help them find a job, you brush up their resume. And ultimately, they’re able to land on their feet.
Let’s say one day, they happen to win the lottery. They got the winning ticket, and now they’re a millionaire. But the moment you hear that news, your friend ghosts you, disappeared, and moves on to be happier without giving you a simple “thank you”.
Again, how does that make you feel? All the help you’ve provided, and they were so quick to forget.
This is what God has to deal with. And what does God desire? Rather than being those who forget, let’s be those who recognize, remember, and are grateful for how God has worked in our lives. Joshua was a great example of this.
The Right Attitude: Being Able to Count Your Blessings
In Joshua 23:14 it says, “Now I am about to go the way of all the earth. You know, with all your heart and soul that now one of all the good promises the Lord your God gave you has failed. every promise has been fulfilled, not one has failed.” So unlike all the other Israelites, who received the blessing from God, the salvation from God, but were so quick to forget and turn to other gods. What did Joshua always remember? God’s goodness, God’s faithfulness.
For us, counting your blessings is actually quite important. That helps us to remember and to recognize how God is working in our lives. And if we are honest about that, that is something that will help us remain faithful to God as opposed to grumbling and complaining, as opposed to turning another direction.
So let’s be those who count our blessings too. Yes, our blessings include our family, the roof above our head, our health. Those are all blessings. At this very time that we had a chance to spend together, let’s also be grateful that God has called us to receive His words of life.