Do You Really Appreciate Your Blessings?
HAVING been miraculously delivered from slavery in Egypt, the sons of Israel were initially delighted to be free to worship Jehovah. (Ex. 14:29–15:1, 20, 21) Soon thereafter, however, their viewpoint changed. They began to complain about their lot in life. Why? Because they shifted their focus from what Jehovah had done for them to the inconveniences of dwelling in the wilderness. They said to Moses: “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no bread and no water, and our soul has come to abhor the contemptible bread [manna].”—Num. 21:5.
Centuries later, King David of ancient Israel sang: “As for me, in your loving-kindness I have trusted; let my heart be joyful in your salvation. I will sing to Jehovah, for he has dealt rewardingly with me.” (Ps. 13:5, 6) David did not forget Jehovah’s acts of loving-kindness toward him. On the contrary, he regularly spent time thinking about them. (Ps. 103:2) Jehovah has dealt rewardingly with us too, and we are wise not to take for granted what he has done in our behalf. Let us, then, consider some of God’s blessings that we enjoy today.
“Intimacy With Jehovah”
The psalmist sang: “The intimacy with Jehovah belongs to those fearful of him.” (Ps. 25:14) What a privilege it is for imperfect humans to have a close personal relationship with Jehovah! However, what if we become so preoccupied with the everyday affairs of life that we end up spending less time praying? Think of what will then happen to our good relationship with Jehovah. As our Friend, Jehovah expects us to trust in him and pour out our heart to him in prayer, expressing to him our fears, desires, and anxieties. (Prov. 3:5, 6; Phil. 4:6, 7) So should we not give consideration to the quality of our prayers?
When a young Witness named Paul thought about his prayers, he realized that he needed to make some improvements.* He said, “I had fallen into the habit of using the same expressions repeatedly when I prayed to Jehovah.” As Paul did research on the subject in the Watch Tower Publications Index, he learned that there are about 180 prayers recorded in the Bible. In these, Jehovah’s servants of the past expressed their innermost feelings. Paul stated: “By meditating on such Scriptural examples, I learned to be specific in my prayers. This has helped me to open my heart to Jehovah. Now it is a delight to draw close to him in prayer.”
“Food at the Proper Time”
Another blessing that Jehovah has bestowed upon us is the great body of Scriptural truth. As we feast on an abundance of rich spiritual food, we have reason to “cry out joyfully because of the good condition of the heart.” (Isa. 65:13, 14) However, we must be on guard against allowing unwholesome influences to cause us to lose our enthusiasm for the truth. For example, paying attention to apostate propaganda can becloud our thinking and blind us to the value of the spiritual “food at the proper time” made available by Jehovah through “the faithful and discreet slave.”—Matt. 24:45-47.
André, who had served Jehovah for years, had the bitter experience of being led astray by apostate thinking. He felt that having a quick look at an apostate Web site would not be dangerous. He recalls: “Initially, I was attracted to the so-called truths that the apostates spoke of. The more I examined what they said, the more I came to think that I was justified in leaving Jehovah’s organization. But later, as I did some research on the apostates’ arguments against Jehovah’s Witnesses, I became aware of how crafty the false teachers were. Information taken out of context was their ‘strong evidence’ against us. Thus, I decided to start reading our publications again and to attend the meetings. Soon I realized how much I had missed.” Happily, André returned to the congregation.
“The Whole Association of Brothers”
Our loving, united brotherhood is a blessing from Jehovah. (Ps. 133:1) With good reason, the apostle Peter wrote: “Have love for the whole association of brothers.” (1 Pet. 2:17) Being part of the Christian brotherhood, we enjoy the warmth of supportive spiritual fathers, mothers, brothers, and sisters of like faith.—Mark 10:29, 30.
Nevertheless, a variety of circumstances can sometimes cause a strain in our relationship with our brothers and sisters. For instance, it is easy to be annoyed at the imperfections of someone and to adopt a critical attitude toward that one. If this was to happen, would it not help to remember that Jehovah loves his servants in spite of their imperfections? Moreover, “if we make the statement: ‘We have no sin,’ we are misleading ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8) Should we not strive to “continue putting up with one another and forgiving one another freely”?—Col. 3:13.
A young person named Ann learned the value of Christian association the hard way. Acting somewhat like the prodigal son of Jesus’ illustration, she drifted away from the Christian congregation. Later on, she came to her senses and returned to the truth. (Luke 15:11-24) What did Ann learn from this experience? She relates: “Now that I have returned to Jehovah’s organization, I value all my brothers and sisters despite their imperfections. In the past, I was quick to be critical of them. But now I am determined not to allow anything to deprive me of the blessings that I enjoy among fellow believers. Nothing out there in the world is worth abandoning our spiritual paradise for.”
Always Be Grateful for Your Blessings
Our hope in God’s Kingdom as the solution for all mankind’s problems is a treasure of inestimable value. When we first acquired this hope, how our hearts swelled with appreciation! We felt just like the merchant in Jesus’ parable who “sold all the things he had” in order to buy “one pearl of high value.” (Matt. 13:45, 46) Jesus did not say that the merchant ever lost appreciation for the pearl. Similarly, let us never lose appreciation for our wonderful hope.—1 Thess. 5:8; Heb. 6:19.
Consider the example of Jean, who has been serving Jehovah for more than 60 years. She says: “What has helped me to keep God’s Kingdom in mind is talking about it to others. When I see their eyes light up with an understanding of what the Kingdom is, it has a positive effect on me. Seeing the difference that Kingdom truth makes in the life of a Bible student causes me to think, ‘What wonderful truths I have to share with others!’”
We have sound reasons for being grateful for the many spiritual blessings we enjoy. Although we may be beset by such trials as opposition, sickness, old age, depression, bereavement, and economic hardship, we know that they are temporary. Under God’s Kingdom, physical blessings will be added to our spiritual blessings. Any suffering we now endure will be done away with in the new system of things.—Rev. 21:4.
In the meantime, let us count our spiritual blessings and display appreciation like that of the psalmist who sang: “Many things you yourself have done, O Jehovah my God, even your wonderful works and your thoughts toward us; there is none to be compared to you. Were I inclined to tell and speak of them, they have become more numerous than I can recount.”—Ps. 40:5.
Names have been changed.
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We are blessed with spiritual support in times of trial