Blessed be the Lord, who daily loads us with benefits.
- Psalm 68:19
Not long ago, as I was complaining to a friend about a situation I thought was unfair to me, the words had hardly left my mouth before a Bible verse Ive known since I was a child popped into my head as if on divine cue: Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits (Psalm 103:2).
I felt so ashamed. For days afterward my prayers were a litany: Thank you, Lord, for this and this and the other thing and, almost as an afterthought, will you please?
Christmas is coming, Thanks-giving is here. What better time than now to give thanks in all things (I Thessalonians 5:18) rather than ask for more, or pout because I wasnt getting what I considered my due?
Few people seeking a job in todays refined marketplace consider salary alone. The employers supplementary benefits - insurance plan, sick leave, retirement options, etc. - are as important to us as the figures on our W-2. In the spiritual realm, imagining God as our employer and life itself as our salary, what benefit plan does he provide?
Thats the question Ive been pondering throughout my penance, and also as Thanksgiving nears. Here are but a few of the benefits for which my now overflowing heart erupts in thanksgiving.
Two days before a scheduled drive to Atlanta last week I noticed one of the tires on my car was low on air. I assumed a quick run to the garage for air would solve the problem, but the added 15 pounds of air left almost as quickly as it took to pump it into the tire. Checking my warrantee, and thankful that I knew where it was, revealed that if the old tire was damaged, I still had time left to receive a new one at a third the normal price. It was, and I did.
Maam, the gentleman said as he showed me the nail-hole in my old tire, this new tire might save your life. Yes, I thought. Driving 300 miles at Interstate speeds on the old tire could have been a lot more expensive than a couple of tankfuls of gas. I have difficulty believing the timing was a coincidence. Benefit A: And he shall give his angels charge over you to keep you in all your ways (Psalm 91:11).
By the time our younger son was 12-years-old we had spent half his life on military installations in Germany, more than 4000 miles away from his grandparents, and most of other six years we were still hundreds of miles from their New England home. For the past 21 years, I have scarcely lived more than 20 miles from any of my five grandchildren. What a blessing, not only on holidays but at their births and birthdays, special occasions, or any other day. Benefit B: May the Lord bless you all the days of your life and may you live to see your childrens children (Psalm 128:5-6).
During television commercials for one pain killer or another, I think of the days and years when one or both my parents suffered from a succession of maladies, and the piles of remedies they purchased for their pain, and add another item to my benefits list. Improvements in medical science, and better education in the areas of nutrition, diet, and prevention, have kept my maladies and medications to a minimum. Benefits C-M: How can I repay the Lord for all his goodness to me (Psalm 116:12)?
Occasionally, after spending the evening out, I make a late stop at a supermarket for something I need. My day is almost done; Im going home. The cashiers may have hours to go before they can go home. For some, making sure the store is open so I can have what I need is a second job, something they must do so they can purchase what they need. Benefits N-infinity: Be at rest, O my soul, for the Lord has been good to you (Psalm 116:7).
No, I still say, life isn't fair. Why should all these benefits be mine instead of to those whose accidents aren't prevented, whose children neglect them or live far away, whose pain is constant, and whose days are long and more filled with stress and fatigue than love for what they do?
I wont ever understand how God determines fairness. But on this Thanksgiving Day, any unfairness in my life is more than dwarfed by what, fairly or unfairly, He has given me.
(Barbara Seaborn is a local freelance writer. E-mail comments to email@example.com.)
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