I believe we’ve all heard the following three words at sometime in our life: “Count your blessings.” There are different versions, such as “count your many blessings”, “blessings crown the head of the righteous” (Proverbs 10:6 NIV), and “God sure has blessed you”.
But what exactly does that word, “blessings”, mean? According to The American Heritage ® Dictionary of The English Language, Fourth Edition, blessing means the following four things: 1. The act of one that blesses. 2. A short prayer said before or after a meal; grace. 3. Something promoting or contributing to happiness, well-being, or prosperity; a boon. 4. Approbation; approval: This plan has my blessing. (1)
Definition number three accurately describes the type of blessings people seem to want us too list off when a “count your blessings” mandate is given. But what counts as a blessing? Some would consider that new car a blessing, while others may consider any car that gets them from point-A to point-B a blessing. A large home cooked meal is a definite blessing to family in small town America. Any type of food, served in any manner, is a blessing to a Laos’ family, where 40 percent of the children under five years of age suffer from chronic malnutrition. (2)
I consider just about everything a blessing from God. Even the trials and tribulations God puts in my path can help me become a better person, or be more thankful for the days that are not fraught with disaster or mayhem. It seems to me that the people who are thankful for each sunrise are bound to have a blessings list almost too long to count. And it is those very people who understand the magnitude of the blessings God has truly given mankind.
So if I were given the chance to define the word blessings for The American Heritage Dictionary, I would include, “That which has been given from God to man, whether man interprets it as a contribution to happiness, well being, and prosperity or whether he doesn’t view it that way.”
(2) World Hunger – Laos. World Food Programme. 19 Oct. 2006. http://www.wfp.org/country_brief/indexcountry.asp?country=418
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Dan, this is very good, very adequately put forth as a great reminder of where our blessings come from. I like your comparisons between different cultures in looking at what constitutes a blessing. And, I believe your writing has been a blessing to many of us. Thomas