In the previous two parts of this mini-series, we learned that God’s blessings and the fullfillments of His promises abound around us at all times. The problem is that we don’t always recognize them. Some of the reasons may be because we are rushing through life; because we are expecting things in ‘our’ timeline instead of God’s; or because we are distracted by our busyness or the problems that surround us. But what if we have put aside our busyness and our distractions, and it still seems that our prayers are bouncing off the ceiling?
I was sitting quietly on a bench one day, watching for birds. The only ones that seemed to abound, however, were the Australian magpies. I dismissed them as far too commonplace. It’s too bad, for if I hadn’t written them off, I might have been blessed by their warbley song and by the intelligent manner in which they flit about doing tricks and being clowns…
God’s blessings may seem mundane as well. You may be grieving the loss of a beloved spouse, for example, and all you want is a hug. Your purring cat jumps on your lap and begins to lick your hand; but you push her away. Wait. Maybe it isn’t the physical hug you were wishing for, but is the comfort your cat is trying to give any less of a blessing? Is it any less of a sign that God loves you and sends you comfort in any way possible?
That same day when I chose to ignore the magpies, I was sitting quietly and watching intently; yet other than the magpies, all I could hear was the ruckus of a bunch of crows. I was pretty discouraged. Where were all the beautiful, exotic Australian birds? After a while, it occurred to me that I was so focused on my discouragement that I had stopped looking for birds. I began to concentrate on the sounds around me, and gradually I began to notice that the “crow” calls were actually not coming from crows at all. Rather, they were coming from a flock of…cockatoos! But wait…I didn’t see any white spots in the tree the noises were coming from. Instead, the “bumps” littering the branches were—black! Then I began noticing the white tails and cheek patches on those “bumps”. My “bunch of crows” was actually a rare flock of Carnaby’s Black Cockatoos!
In the same way that I was so focused on the disappointment that I almost missed the flock of cockatoos, when we focus only on the negative, we risk missing the potential blessings God has for us. Paul tells us to, “…give thanks in all circumstances…” (1 Thess. 5:18a NIV), because when our minds are occupied with thanksgiving, our hearts will be open to seeing His blessings. Remember that: “…whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Phil. 4:8 NIV).
There was one more lesson that our non-productive animal hunt in Australia had to teach us about recognizing God’s blessings. We were on the Sea Acres Rainforest Boardwalk near Port Macquarie, NSW, Australia. I was walking quietly and watching all around, but 1/3 of the way into the walk, I still hadn’t seen my first wild creature. We came upon a family then. The kids were excitedly calling out something about seeing a lizard, and their dad was bent over the rail pointing towards the forest floor. We searched the ground carefully where he was pointing, and to our surprise, there was a huge lizard, about 1 metre (3 feet) in length and at least 40 cm wide. We didn’t see him because he was well camouflaged onto the forest floor, and we didn’t have the experience in knowing how to find lizards in their natural habitats!
In a similar way, we were involved in a non-productive search for Koalas one day when we came across an arrow on the trail that someone had fashioned in sticks. When we looked in the direction the arrow was pointing, sure enough, there was a koala high up in a gum tree.
These two experiences illustrate another vitally-important clue for learning to recognize God’s blessings. We may not have the experience to know how to find them in our lives. Sometimes we need to rely on others to point them out to us. As we accept their assessment of the situations and praise God for His hand of comfort and strength, we can then pass that comfort on to other people: “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. 1:4 NIV)
Friends, just like the animals and birds did abound in Australia, God’s blessings and the fulfillment of His promises abound in our lives as well. Our job is to focus on the positive, to praise Him in our troubles, to understand that God can use anything that catches our attention to pour out His blessings upon us, and to learn from others.
Why not take some time today to identify a few of God’s blessings, and then stop to give Him praise? I believe you will find that your own problems will begin to diminish in the face of the love of God poured out continually all around you.
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.)