2000-09-06 - Spiritual Arithmetic: Count Your Mercies
Psalm 103:1,2 Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits.
We are prone to keep our focus on the dark aspects of our lives. We are a forever grumbling people. We major on our miseries and complain about our wants. We forget how well we have things and continue to reach for more, more things and better things. And yet in many ways, we are already spoiled.
The sun shines, the flowers bloom, and the rain of God's providence showers us with mercy. God sustains our lives, and for many of us He has granted good health also. But we often remain ungrateful for all these mercies.
I am always up with the birds at 5am when they start their singing. Every day these birds wake up and break into song. Even if it rained on them all night, in the morning they start their chirps and songs. Scripture call us to remember what the birds seem to instinctively know, "in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus." (1 Thessalonians 5:18)
There are many types of mercies that God has given us. Some obvious kinds of mercies are those blessings He has given us in Christ. In Christ He has offered us atonement for sin. To those who come to Christ for forgiveness from sin, God has granted the Holy Spirit to comfort us and guide us. The peace of God, redemption from eternal death, and adoption into God's family are just some of the spiritual mercies Christians enjoy.
Counting our mercies is something that is given to us as an example in Scripture. Jacob, when reviewing his life as he feared meeting Esau, says to the Lord, "I am unworthy of all the lovingkindness and of all the faithfulness which You have shown to Your servant; for with my staff only I crossed this Jordan, and now I have become two companies." Jacob remembers that he started with nothing, just a staff, and all that he had accumulated over the years, family, possessions, and every other blessing, was a gift from God.
The saints that are recorded in Scripture are those who we see counting their blessings. It is no stretch to know that this practice is recorded for us to be an example for us and blessing to us. They remind us to do the same, and they also remind us that throughout history God has been, to His people, a God of mercy and blessing.
There is no guarantee that things will always go well with us. Jacob and his family, because of a famine, were forced to flee to Egypt. David, whom God later blessed greatly, was for a time a wanderer and under great persecution. Elijah used to be fed by a raven. Christ was said to have nowhere to lay down His head. It may be that many of us do not feel blessed by the Lord presently. This, however, is not a sign that the Lord will not bless in the future. And regardless of how we feel there are things that we can be thankful for. So let us take some time and do some spiritual arithmetic, counting our mercies, and giving thanks to the Lord.
"Every time you draw your breath, you suck in a mercy." Thomas Watson
Soli Deo Gloria,