“Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits…” Psalm 103:2 (KJV)
Today’s Scripture tells us to “forget not all His benefits”, and then it goes on to list many of the things our Heavenly Father does for us….He forgives all of our iniquities, He heals all of our diseases, He redeems our life from destruction, He crowns us with loving kindness and tender mercies, and He satisfies our mouth with good things.
As I think about the pilgrims and that first Thanksgiving Day so long ago, my heart is filled with gratitude, too. I feel like I have SO much to thank God for…not only today, on Thanksgiving, but every single day of my life. I am careful to thank God often and give Him glory, worship, and praise for so many of the blessings He continually bestows. I remember to thank Him for the things that are so obvious to me….my salvation, my dear husband and our marriage, our precious son, our Christian home, the fact that we can kneel and pray to God together in unity and fellowship, the house that keeps us dry and comfortable all year-round, the wonderful privilege of homeschooling our sweet boy, the good health God has given us, the cherished gift of living in the United States of America, our religious freedom, our freedom of speech, our three parents, and a host of other people we love and treasure. I could still be sitting here months from now mentioning people and things and blessings that I remember. But what about all of the benefits I have forgotten?
What about all the times God has answered a prayer prayed in a moment of panic, and I completely forgot to go back and give Him thanks? What about the unexpected card I got in the mail from a long-lost friend? And the parking place that “just happened” to open up as I pulled into the over-crowded Walmart parking lot? What about the strangers who discreetly and secretly bought our meal, and then left the restaurant before we had a chance to thank them? What about the second time that happened in a completely different setting? What about the time I walked into an uncomfortable, awkward situation and spotted a friendly, familiar face smiling reassuringly at me? What about the dove that landed unexpectedly on the roof of my car during a troubled and unsettled time in my life? What about the deer that was hit by another car instead of ours?
Since Kevin started his new job over a year ago, I have been plagued with concern over him driving home late at night on the deserted country roads he has to travel. I pray daily for God’s protection over him, and one of the things I almost never fail to ask is that God will “remove deer from his path”. We have deer around here…a LOT of them. So, even though I know I shouldn’t worry so much, it is a legitimate concern. J
One night, while on his way home, Kevin called me. When I answered, I knew right away that something was wrong. He said, “I hit a deer”. He sounded shaken up, so I was almost afraid to ask. “Are you okay?” I softly asked him. “Yeah, I’m fine”, he replied. And then he went on to tell me the most incredible story.
He had been driving along at about 60 mph and decided to change over to the passing lane to pass the car in front of him. When he got just about even with the car he was passing, an adult-size deer ran right into the car…not our car, but the car beside him! By the time the deer reached the lane Kevin was in, it was injured and lying on the ground. The only way it made contact with our car, is when Kevin had no choice but to run over it. He and the lady who was driving the other car pulled over, and right away Kevin could see that her car was damaged….very badly. The whole front side was torn up, extensively, all the way back to the front door. Then he looked at our car. There was absolutely no harm done…not even a dent! As I listened to him telling me what happened, my mind immediately went back to the many times I had prayed that prayer for him. How many other deer has God removed from Kevin’s path? We knew about this one, and we fervently gave God thanks, but what about all the other times God brought him home safe without hitting a deer?
In Luke 17:11-19, there is a story about ten lepers. Leprosy was a horribly debilitating disease in Jesus’ day. People with leprosy had to live very tormented, isolated lives away from their loved ones and family. They were social outcasts. I don’t know how long these men had been in this state, but when Jesus entered into their village the ten lepers met Him. They lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us.” Jesus told them to follow the Old Testament procedures for someone who was healed of leprosy and to go and show themselves to the priest. As they were walking, all ten of them were cleansed…instantly healed of their leprosy! It was a miracle of monumental proportions and truly amazing to behold. They got their lives back! They were no longer outcasts of society. They could return home to their wives and families and live normal, enjoyable lives once again. So, wouldn’t you think they would all be filled with utmost gratitude? Absolutely. But, an unbelievable thing happened. Only ONE, yes I said, only ONE, of the men “turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God, and fell down on his face at Jesus’ feet, giving Him thanks.” Jesus asked the man, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine?”
I look at these nine men with a feeling close to contempt. How could they? After what Jesus just did for them? How could they walk away in good conscience and never turn around and say, “thank you”? It seems inconceivable to me. Ah! But then I consider myself and the many benefits I, too have forgotten. How many times have I failed to turn back and give thanks?
Today, I am going to do something I have never done before. I am going to bow my head and thank God for forgotten benefits. The many answers to prayer, the many times He has protected us when we didn’t even realize we were in danger, the times He rearranged our day so we didn’t have an accident, all of the changes to our schedule because He knew we would be exposed to sickness if He didn’t insert a detour….the list goes on and on. So many benefits….such a merciful God…..very forgetful me.
Shamefully, I feel like I have a lot of thanking to do. How about you? Have you forgotten any of God’s benefits? Sometimes, we can become so focused on all of the negatives in our lives, that we completely overlook all of the benefits He so faithfully bestows every, single day. Thanksgiving Day. I can’t think of a better time to remember and catch up on thanking Him, can you?