Tuesday, April 21, 2009

If You Count the Things That You Do Not Have

Are you a natural positive thinker? If so, that in itself is a blessing worth counting. Just please don't look down on those of us who have to work harder at being happy.

Exactly what makes someone a perpetually cheerful soul or a gloom-and-doom pessimist is a question with no obvious or simple answer. Circumstances have relatively little to do with it; there are cheerful cancer patients and miserable socialites. Genetic and chemical makeup are definitely contributing factors; just as some people have natural talent for music or sports, others have natural talent for the sunny outlook. But like most lifestyle tendencies, optimism and pessimism are also heavily nurtured by habit. Feed the mind a steady habit of complaining and looking at the negative--and surround yourself with others who do the same--and soon you'll be hating your whole life as a matter of course.

Considering that the good things in most lives outweigh the bad on any careful examination, it's surprising how many people find it far easier to think negative than positive. Blame advertisers or news reporters if you like, but probably a spirit of dissatisfaction is one of the facts of fallen human nature. And probably nothing that feels so natural makes us so miserable--or accomplishes so little.

God's prescription for curing the gloomy-thinking syndrome? "Count your blessings," as the old song goes. As you go through the list, take time to thank God for each item. Then spend some time thanking and praising Him just for being what He is: kind, all-powerful, merciful, all-knowing, loving, Creator of all... Repeat every time you feel depressed, discouraged, or mad at the world.

When we practice looking at God rather than at circumstances, we better appreciate how much bigger He is than any problem.

If you count the things that you do not have,
You will count yourself ever poor,
Though your savings keep eighteen banks afloat
And gold knockers adorn your door.
For you are a small part of all the world,
So the sum of the things it holds
Always will be far more than what you can clasp,
Though your fate endless wealth unfolds.
So forget the things that you do not have;
Thank the Lord Who made sun and star
For the blessings and treasure He gives to you,
And rejoice in how rich you are!

If you only look at your pains and woes,
They will grow in your frightened mind
Into giants that bar your every path,
And give constant pursuit behind.
But it's not their physical size that counts
In their power to trouble your heart;
It's the size of the doubt that you hold within,
Which just swells once you let it start.
Turn your eyes away from your earthly pains;
Fix your gaze on the Lord of All;
And as you give praise to His glorious might,
You will see life's worst giants fall!

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