As my husband and I were preparing for a once-in-a-life-time trip to Australia, I couldn’t help but begin to imagine all the wonderful animals we would see. From the stories I had heard, the roads would be littered with hordes of Emus, Camels and kangaroos, and I knew I would have no problem achieving my goal of seeing and photographing every unique member of the Australian animal kingdom.
Needless to say, this isn’t exactly the way it was. We had been in Australia for over two weeks before we saw our first wild kangaroo. A month brought us our first kookaburra, and we never did see wild Tasmanian devils, camels, platypus, or even cockatiels or budgies. We only saw one snake in the wild, and the spiders were actually not everywhere, and they were of ordinary size…To say I was disappointed would be an understatement. Where were all the animals we were purported to see?
In the same way we were told that animals were everywhere in Australia, we are told in God’s Word that God’s blessings abound. Here are a few examples of the blessings God’s Word promises us:
1. God blesses His people:“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.” (Num. 6:24-26 NIV); “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.” (Eph. 1:3 NIV).
2. God is near to the broken-hearted: “The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (Ps. 34:18 NIV).
3. God gives us comfort: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (2 Cor. 1:3-4 NIV).
4. God provides for us: “The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul.” (Ps. 23:1-3 NIV).
5. God is our shelter in times of storm, our Rock, our strong tower: “For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.” (Ps. 27:5 NIV; see alsoPs. 62, etc.)
The problem is, in the midst of our troubles, these blessings seem like my animals in Australia: non-existent!
In truth, the continent of Australia truly is teaming with wildlife. The abundant roadkill lining the highways will attest to this, as will the many reports of animals sightings in the same areas we visited and declared “animal free”.
In the same way, the fact that we don’t see God’s blessings being poured out upon us does not mean that they don’t abound. God has promised to bless, comfort, protect, feed, encourage and empower us, and God keeps all His promises: “Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The LORD is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does.” (Ps. 145:13 NIV). It isn’t that God doesn’t pour out His blessings; rather, just like I didn’t always see the abundant wildlife in Australia, we do not always recognize the blessings of God.
The question, then, changes from, “Where are all the purported blessings?” to “Why don’t we see and recognize God’s blessings?”
There actually were several specific reasons why we didn’t always see the abundant wildlife in Australia. I believe that from my failed experiences with animal sightings we can learn some vital lessons in recognizing the blessings God showers us with. This will be the focus of this mini-series.
For today, let’s look at one of the biggest reasons I didn’t see wildlife in Australia: We didn’t take the time…We were, after all, on a set agenda. Australia is big and our time was limited! Were we unable to spot wildlife because we were in too much of a hurry? I decided to test this theory. When my husband wanted to visit the ANZAC museum in Albany, Western Australia, I opted to take a leisurely walk around a quiet park instead. The result? I came away with many pictures of exotic birds.
Herein lies the first vital suggestion for recognizing God’s blessings: We need to stop rushing through life. We need to learn to be silent and watchful, for when we do, we will begin to notice the many blessings God has for us.
Take, for example, that day when I, as a hospital worker, was feeling completely stressed out as I rushed through my morning agendas. I didn’t even notice the occasional smile or cheery word from coworkers and patients. If I had stopped long enough, I might have realized that God sent those cheery smiles and greetings specifically for me, to brighten my day! Doesn’t God tell us: “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth” (Ps. 46:10 NIV)?
Please join us on Thursday for “Animals…All Around, Part 2: Masked by Distraction…”!
In His love,
Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author — “Aboard God’s Train — A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer”, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, andScriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, withAnswers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.
(To access the entire “Animals…ALL Around” Mini-Series, please clickhere.)