Are you  preparing to celebrate Thanksgiving Day? It’s a national holiday in the US observed on the 4th Thursday of November. It was made official by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863 as a day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”

It is right to give thanks to God, the Giver of all gifts and good things according to the Holy Bible. Hope lives in a heart of gratitude. When thanks is given to God I believe He responds by giving hope. Surely thankfulness and hope may be considered as two sides of a single coin.

There’s an old hymn from the 1800’s that encourages more than thankfulness in general. It challenges counting — actually naming — each blessing one by one. It is a good spiritual exercise to strengthen one’s attitude of gratitude.

“Count Your Blessings” was written by Johnson Oatman, Jr. His father was a merchant gifted with an excellent singing voice. As he grew up the son loved hearing his father sing church songs.

Passing up opportunities in the family business Johnson Oatman, Jr. studied for ministry. In his mid-thirties after becoming a minister he discovered his musical gift for writing songs.

Averaging about 200 songs each year he ended up writing 5,000 songs including “Count Your Blessings,” “Higher Ground,” and “No, Not One.” 

These musical compositions were blessings that gave joy and meaning to his life. Johnson Oatman, Jr. had found a way to “preach the Gospel.” Indeed the Gospel and blessings have reached millions through his well-known and well-loved songs.

Note real-life aspects of “Count Your Blessings.” There’s discouragement, burdens, cares, doubts, conflict…. See how the focus changes to hope, comfort, singing…. This change happens as God’s blessings are counted!

The best part may be that the blessings will last all the way to the end of this life’s journey. I’d say that Johnson, Jr. knew and believed the Bible. For anyone who does there are innumerable reasons to be thankful.

I hope you will celebrate Thanksgiving Day and remember to keep a grateful heart every day. An attitude of thanksgiving translates into a life of thanks-living that will be blessed with hope.


“When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done. 

Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your blessings, see what God hath done;
Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your many blessings, see what God hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, ev’ry doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by. (Chorus)

When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold;
Count your many blessings, money cannot buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high. (Chorus)

So, amid the conflict, whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end. (Chorus)”

(Johnson Oatman, Jr.)

“I will praise the name of God with a song; I will magnify Him with thanksgiving.” (Psalm 69:30)

“Oh, come let us sing to the Lord; let us make a joyful noise to the Rock of our Salvation! Let us come into His presence with thanksgiving; let us make a joyful noise to Him with songs of praise!” (Psalm 5:1-3)

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