I regularly walk through the spiritual exercise of counting my blessings, it’s a sure-fire way of dealing with first world problems and the creeping self-centredness that is hard to avoid in 21st century western europe.
I’ve discovered that as I count the many good things in my life that gratitude and thankfulness increase and I consider myself blessed. There is the danger here that I might think I deserve these manifold gifts and treasures. Fortunately, for every heads there is a tails and for every poison an antidote. The opposite plan to counting my blessings is, oddly enough, to consider the misfortune of others.
For a reminder of that, I can thank Dr Seuss and the old man in the desert of Drize.
“When you think things are bad, when you feel sour and blue, when you start to get mad, you should do what I do!
Just tell yourself, Duckie, you’re really quite lucky! Some people are much more…oh, ever so much more…oh, muchly much-much more unlucky than you!”
And then the old sage hits the proverbial nail right on the head.
“It’s a troublesome world. All the people who’re in it are troubled with troubles almost every minute. You ought to be thankful, a whole heaping lot, for the places and people you’re lucky you’re not!”
He’s right of course. For starters I had nothing to do with being born to great Christian parents in a rich part of the world instead of a slum in mega-city, dirt poor with incredible odds of survival stacked against me.
It’s a humbling thing to think through the many advantages and benefits simply from being born in favourable circumstances. It’s a pin-prick to my easily inflated ego. Into that thought comes the words of Jesus in Luke 12:48, “Everyone to whom much was given, much will be required.”
For those of us living in the West, considerable resources have been placed into our stewardship. Financial (even in a recession), educational, relational, technological, physical (consider the life expectancy of Zimbabwe compared with your nation for example) resources have been placed into our care. Sadly, few people seem to have any grasp of why that might be so or even if they do they squander it selfishly.
Count your blessings, consider yourself lucky and then ask yourself ‘what will be required of me?’