“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love”—Ephesians 1:3-4 (NRSV)
Sometimes we get hung up on our past mistakes. Our regrets. Our poor choices. We soon forget the blessings God has bestowed on us. Why is it easier to focus on the negative, forgetting what He has done for us in the past?
Aren’t we encouraged not to dwell on the past? It’s like reading the same chapter in a book repeatedly, expecting the ending to change. Focusing on the past can be the biggest roadblock to moving forward. But what if we focused on our past blessings instead?
A friend’s recent quote on social media led to reflection. She wrote: “Tracing our blessings backward shows us the ‘pattern’ of God’s involvement in our lives. It allows us to see that the very obstacles we face today could be the things that set us up for His blessings tomorrow. So, if a prayer of yours hasn’t been answered yet, hold on! The answer could very well be in progress in ways you’d least suspect.”
Blessed by Unanswered Prayers
Prayers often go unanswered. Even after praying the same prayer day after day, month after month, year after year, we wonder why God doesn’t answer.
We pray for family members to be healed. Prodigals lose their way, and we pray for a safe return. We pray for loved ones to surrender to Jesus. After losing a job, we pray for God to open another door. Even then, our prayers often go unanswered. We plead, “Where are you, God?”
But what if unanswered prayers are blessings in disguise? I like this anonymous quote: “Don’t think of the things you didn’t get after praying. Think of the countless blessings God gave you without asking.”
How Blessed Are You?
Our blessings aren’t always apparent. Ask yourself, “What do I take for granted?” Even when we make mistakes, we can ask God for wisdom, so we can learn and grow from them. Asking God for wisdom is one prayer He does answer.
When you look in the rear-view mirror of your life, can you recall moments when you safely made it through a precarious situation? Remembering a time when I fell asleep at the wheel of my vehicle, reminds me of God’s protection. Traveling down a turnpike at 75 miles per hour, I was startled awake when my vehicle crossed into the left-hand lane and bounced off a concrete barrier. Not only was I unharmed, but my car also had no evidence of having hit the concrete. Fortunately, there were also no other vehicles on that stretch of the turnpike when it happened. God’s protection was covering me.
If we’re blessed with good health, we often take it for granted. In my lifetime, I’ve had 12 surgeries—some elective, others from accidents—and I’m facing two more next year. Otherwise, I’m in excellent health, according to my doctors. God created our bodies. He formed us in our mother’s womb. Some of our illnesses are at the cost of our own hands—we don’t eat healthy, we don’t exercise, we don’t get enough sleep. However, God will give us the tools to change our bad habits if we’ll only ask and then listen.
A Pattern of God’s Involvement
The quote, “Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous,” is often attributed to Albert Einstein. The rest of the quote goes, “Actually, most of us go through life a little afraid, a little nervous, a little excited. It is then when you begin to encounter more and more coincidences in your life.”
I, too, believe coincidences are God’s way of working behind the scenes. When we notice a pattern of His involvement in our lives, it’s then that we find the blessings. When I began to see God’s hand on my life, I started tracing that pattern all the way back to my childhood. I was amazed. In awe. Humbled by God’s amazing grace.
When we accept and then surrender to Jesus as our Savior and Lord, we discover the greatest blessing of all. When that happens, our hearts are opened to see the blessings, even in the trials.
After a 30-year teaching career, Carol Round found redirection as a Christian columnist, author and inspirational speaker. She is the author of nine books, all available at Amazon.com. (See her website at www.carolaround.com for more information.) When she isn’t writing, she can be found spending time with her seven grandchildren, working in her yard, volunteering, shooting photos, hiking, going on mission trips and playing with her spoiled rotten dog, Harley.