Some years ago I remember having to preside over the funeral mass of a 10 year old child who had died of a freak accident. A few days after the funeral, I met the single mother of this child and struck up a conversation with her. In the course of the conversation, she told me… “If I could meet Jesus personally now, all I have to say to Him is ‘thank you for having blessed me with my child’.” I must admit that I was shocked that she had said ‘thank you’ because I was expecting her to be angry with God for having taken away the love of her life. ‘How is this possible?’ was what went through my mind. If she had expressed anger, I would have totally understood her for feeling that way but the words of gratitude caught me by surprise. Given the situation, I am not sure I could have expressed the same… she taught me something. In the midst of the pain of loss that she would have been experiencing, she could still thank God!

We have often been told to ‘count your blessings’, but many a times we fail to remember because the weight of daily life overtakes us that it is hard to remember the blessings. There is no doubt that all of us would like a better life  but in doing so, it is so easy to forget the many blessings we have received, mundane as they may seem to our eyes because we expect the extraordinary.

As we come to the end of yet another year and look around us, it is so easy to be overawed by the problems that we have encountered this past year – economic downturn, political instability, threat of destruction, clash of civilisations, financial uncertainty, health deterioration, injustices in society, loss of loved ones, and a host of other problems. But yet there are still blessings that we can consider as having made our lives better. I want to dedicate this time to remembering those simple blessings that we so often take for granted.

I recently entered  a book shop and found a little poster that said… Count your blessings instead of your crosses; Count your gains instead of your losses. Count your joys instead of your woes; Count your friends instead of your foes. Count your smiles instead of your tears; Count your courage instead of your fears. Count your full years instead of your lean; Count your kind deeds instead of your mean. Count your health instead of your wealth; Count on God instead of yourself.

Blessings are aplenty in our lives, but we fail to recognise them. We live in a world where we find ourselves difficult to be satisfied. There is always the need for more. Somehow we are inundated by an insatiable desire for more, more and more. Will there ever be a time when we can sincerely say ‘I don’t need anything anymore’.  Perhaps this is hard to come by as long as we are consumed by materialism.

As we end the year 2015 and look towards 2016 with hope, we could bring to mind the words of the novelist Charles Dickens… Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has plenty; not on your past misfortunes of which all men have some! As I look back, I have had my share of heartaches this year especially having lost my Dad but through it all I still want to say… Thank you Lord for all you’ve done, things both great and small and for Jesus Christ your Son, thank you most of all.

Wishing you God’s abundant blessings in the New Year!