Reflect on your present blessings, of which every man has many; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.  – Charles Dickens

 1.  Though I’ve fallen in love various times in differing social relationships, I’ve never loved a group of people before.  God has blessed my heart supernaturally to be able to love a congregation.  Perhaps this is the godly joy leaders feel.  I don’t know why I continue to pray for the unspiritual, forgive those who have betrayed me, encourage those who discourage others, strengthen the ignorant, and listen to the arrogant. It’s definitely not equivalent of Christ’s love, but definitely more than I am capable of previously.  I can now understand the joy and love Paul had for the congregations he visited as well as the fear and anxiety after he left.  Love, a blessing.

2.  To have no one respond to a Bible study or to have no one do anything about the truth they’ve just learned is one of the most discouraging moments in ministry.  Just when you reach this low point, one individual then understands the full implications of this truth.  The face becomes enlightened, then concerned, while curious, then profoundly impacted.  One blessing is to be able to see the individual’s life change, however quick or slow.  But not only change, but to see him/her share this truth with another person is similar to meeting your “spiritual grandchildren”.  Hence, a movement of living truth is born.  The transfer of living truth, a blessing.

3.  Although society is redefining the word “family” to mean any group of people who love each other to accompany the deviant forms of gender-relations out there, I’ve learned the biblical definition of “family” to mean any group of people who love the Lord together.  I’ve traveled to Sacramento, St. Louis, Chattanooga, Chicago, Boston, and the suburbs to Detroit, only to come upon Christian bodies who have loved and treated me like one of their own.  While never a substitute of my real immediate family, they seem to be heaven’s second substitute.  God’s family, a blessing.

4.  Individuals whom God has placed to cross, parallel, or intersect my experience have been a blessing.  From certain roommates who held different perspectives to liberated visionaries with plans to conquer the world, individuals themselves have attracted me closer to the throne of Christ, causing darkness to seem little darker and light to seem a bit brighter.  I am inspired to impact, influence, and understand other individuals likewise.  How different each individual is.  Individuals, a blessing.

5.  Solitude.  While others may thrive on social reinforcement or protection of a general populace, the opportunity to experience simplicity and spiritual profundities is a blessing only possible through prayerful meditation and solitude.  I have realized more of my weakness, faults, and insecurities this year than ever.  And because I have realized them, I have leaned on Christ all the more to lean on, to empower me to overcome, and eventually to surpass and redefine the superficial limitations I have already imposed upon myself through these realizations.  Solitude, a blessing.

6.  They are educated.  They are patient.  They are willing to teach you again and again.  They are quiet.  They never complain about you, just the world.  They are kind.  They are willing to suffer abuse for years.  They are humble.  Some are short, some are long, but all have something to say.  They don’t mind if you fall asleep on them.  They don’t mind being sat upon, used for different things, or even given to someone else.  They don’t care if you never ask how they are doing for decades.  But when you pick them up, it’s as if no time has passed.  Books have been a blessing this past year.  And of the numerous books out there advocating for morality and justice, relaying the socioeconomic events of history, teaching the scientific how-to’s of life, one Book has been of particular value, a true blessing.

7.  It’s different from wit, humor, or sarcasm.  It’s something the Comedy Channel cannot reproduce in its programming.  It’s something every group of friends waits for while sitting around late at night.  It’s something every group of guys anticipates before the game is over.  It’s something people only realize after its over.  It’s something the world seeks, but cannot grasp.  It’s what life is made of.  It’s what makes us laugh, what justifies us to make fun of our friends, what hugs are made of, what makes us mourn, what attracts us to each other.  It’s not sentimental.  It’s not even love.  It doesn’t even have a name, for the devil wants us to think of it as superficial and cliche.  It’s what the Lord had in mind ideally for all of humanity.  It’s what we’ve lost and what Christ has given back to us.  It’s what gets us through the tsunamis, hurricanes, floods, changes in government, war, and suffering.  It’s what got me through last year and it is what will get me through this one.  A blessing.