The (Not So Terrible) Burden of Your Many Blessings

Have you ever stopped to notice how many of the things we see as problems in our lives are in some way tied up with the many, many blessings we enjoy?

I’ve written about his before on ESI, but given how often I need this reminder, it might be helpful to bring it up again, particularly during the week of Thanksgiving.

These won’t necessarily apply to everyone, but consider a few common examples:

Maybe you’ve recently been overwhelmed at your job. Maybe you feel bogged down with the weight of expectations and responsibilities. Or maybe it’s that you find your work boring or unfulfilling in certain ways, or that some of your coworkers are hard to get along with. Those things might very well be true. And none of them are easy to deal with, especially over a lengthy period of time. But isn’t it a blessing to have gainful employment, which provides you with all kinds of other good things: food, clothing, a place to live, maybe even some spending money, medical care, etc.?

What about that person close to you who might have hurt you recently? No, that wasn’t fun at all. But isn’t it true that the people that hurt us the most are often able to do so because they mean so much to us? If we’re offended by someone in the parking lot of the grocery store, we forget about it quickly enough. But to have a life that includes close, meaningful relationships—between spouses, family members, good friends, etc.—means that, by definition, you will sometimes open yourself to being hurt far more than you would otherwise. That’s just part of living as fallen people in a fallen world. But would you rather not have any of those relationships in the first place? Would you rather close yourself off from all the joy and support they bring into your life?

Or how about an example that’s a bit more specific, one that might be especially timely over the next few days? Maybe you feel harried because you’re either hosting everyone at your house for Thanksgiving, or you feel the same because you have to travel (maybe wrangling kids along the way) to celebrate somewhere else. In both situations, there can be a lot of details and hassles to deal with. But what about the fact that you get to celebrate with people you care about in the first place? That you have the ability to open your home and provide a meal? That you can travel great distances relatively quickly to see loved ones? Aren’t all these things, if we really stop and think about it, significant blessings in our lives?

We could think similarly about many other situations in our lives, from home improvement projects and your car’s oil leak to Christmas shopping and the performance of your favorite sports teams.

In fact, either right now or sometime over the next couple of days, I’d encourage you to engage in a short but practical exercise. First, think about two or three things that you currently find frustrating, discouraging, or worrisome. Then try to consider what blessing in your life is involved with whatever those things might be. And once you’ve thought that through, take a moment simply to give thanks to God for the good things he’s given you.

Doing so will not only give the proper credit to the Giver of all good gifts (James 1:17), but it may also, if you’re anything like me, give you a much needed does of the kind of perspective that turns irritation or frustration into thanksgiving and contentment

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