I find it ironic that I’m not looking forward to a huge blessing that I’m receiving this week. On Wednesday I start the process of removing a (large) kidney stone from my kidney. It’s amazing to me how many things can go wrong with our bodies! My doctor has made it clear that this first surgery will not completely remove my staghorn kidney stone. If left untreated, this kidney stone could kill my kidney or cause infections that would be detrimental to my health. This is a condition that I cannot fix on my own, and it is not going to just go away. I’m having to depend on the skill and dedication of other people to remove this kidney-invader. Although not fun, it is a huge blessing that this treatment is available to me.

How often does God put blessings in our lives? I believe that God puts a constant flow of blessings in our lives. Some of these blessings are hard to recognize at the time. This especially includes the ones that are painful or scare us. Being cheap, I would also add those that are expensive. This year I chose a cheaper health policy with a high deductible. I did not anticipate that either my wife or I would be having surgery this year. This last week, both the hospital and the doctor have contacted me for payment in advance! I admit that I might have grumbled some about the cost. Then a couple of thoughts came into my mind. The first is how much is a healthy kidney worth? The second is more of an observation. I have been noticing that without doing anything different, somehow we have been able to save more money in our checking account. I’m not sure how this has happened (I keep wondering if I have forgotten to pay something?), but it appears to me to be about the same amount as what my surgery is going to cost. This is looking like another blessing!

God’s blessings are easier to see when we are looking for them. Just because something is unpleasant or uncomfortable doesn’t necessarily mean that it is “bad”. Hindsight is one of the ways that we can identify blessings. How much more valuable, though, is it if we can recognize blessings as they happen? Our attitude changes drastically when we recognize that we are experiencing a blessing!

When are we most motivated to look for God’s blessings? When we are expecting to experience them. So, are we expecting God’s blessings today? I am positive that if we look, we will see them. Even when we don’t recognize it, God has a way of blessing us!

One of my hopes is that some day (perhaps when I cross from this world to the next) God will reveal to me the blessings that I didn’t notice. I feel confident that there have been many times when I have been protected or guided by God and I didn’t recognize what was happening. I have little doubt that there is an impressive number of blessings that never registered on my awareness.

Part of what I love about God is that opportunities are made for us not only to receive blessings, but to be a blessing (the two have a way of going together). Life is richer when we get to be a blessing in someone else’s life. This week the surgical team and hospital staff get to do this for me. Who will I turn around and bless?

The unhappiest people I know are the ones who constantly focus only on their own needs. I believe that God designed us to care about each other. A great gift is being able to be a blessing in someone else’s life without expecting anything in return.

How many blessings can we count this week? Let’s count both the blessings that we receive and the blessings that we give (which have a way of becoming a blessing that we receive). Let the count start now!

Your brother on the journey, Mark

A further thought: I’m humbled to be in the privileged position to be able to schedule my surgery without having to worry that I can’t afford it. I know many people—even those with health insurance—who are not in the position to cover an unexpected major expense. All too often they put off taking care of their own health issues because the expense would threaten the well-being of their families. We live in a great country where needed health care should be available and affordable for all. I’m not sure how to do this, but I do know there has to be an answer. Working together as Americans, I believe that we will find the answer. Insisting on being divided, I doubt if we ever will agree upon an answer.

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