Count Your Blessings
We are being told repeatedly these days that ours is an affluent society, and indeed it is. God has opened the windows of heaven and poured out upon us in this country material blessings so bounteous "that shall not be room enough to receive it" (Mal. 3:10). Every good and perfect gift which we enjoy cometh "down from the Father of lights" (Jas. 1:17). We must be cautious to be "good stewards of the manifold grace of God" (1 Pet. 4:10). In the words of the song we sing, we need to "count our blessings."
In the midst of a marvelous country of plenty, some of us still complain about how little we have. We make ourselves comical in our complaints about what we do not have. We are about like the daughter of a well-known film star who wrote concerning "a family I know." She wrote: "I know a very poor family. The father is poor. The mother is poor. The children are poor. The cook, butler, gardeners, secretary and upstairs maids are also poor . . .
Most of us have come to think of certain things as being the "necessities of life" that most of the rest of the world never even hope to have. In fact, in the life span of most of us, things that once were luxuries affordable only by a few have come to be common place, and "essentials."
Two articles that I read recently made me grateful for what we have, and ashamed when we are disposed to complain because we do not have more. Some of the facts in these two articles I want to pass on to you. As you reflect on these, you also be thankful to a merciful God for your many blessings.
The average income in the United States, based on the gross national product, is $3000.00 per year. Even in modernized Europe the average income is only between $1200 and $1800 yearly. But in the underdeveloped two thirds of the world, the per
Capita income is only about $100 yearly. Have you ever thought what it would be like to try to live on $100 per year per person?
If we were to reduce our living standards to those of the "average" family in the world, some drastic changes would occur in our level of living. Our homes would be stripped of all furniture, including "beds, carpets, sofas, dining set, chairs, tables, lampseverything." In the place of our present furnishings would be placed one old wooden table and one wooden chair. Probably any table and any chair you now have in your house would be too good for the home of Mr. Average in the world.
What grocery supplies do you now have in your house? In reducing ourselves to the world average, our kitchen cupboards would be dismantled, and all our supplies from our cupboard, pantry, refrigerator and deepfreeze would be removed. In their place, we would have three or four stale potatoes, a small bag of flour, a box of matches, some sugar and salt. That would be all!
Out also must go all plumbing and wiring and all appurtenant fixtures, including toilets, faucets, switches, lights, disposals, ovens, stoves, radios, clocks, televisions, telephones, fans, hairdryers, electric razors, electric knives, toasters, waffle irons, electric skillets, heaters, automatic washers and dryers, dishwashers, etc. In fact, the average American home is said to have available the services of various household appliances equal to the work of ninety servants. Every one of these "necessities" would be eliminated.
We also would be moved out of our present residence into something like a crude tool shed. Our garments would consist of clothes worse than those you have planned to send off to some charitable or collecting agency. Away also would go our automobiles (both of them!), boats, planes, motorbikes, scooters, wagons and even horse-drawn vehicles. If we were slightly above average, our family would own one ancient, worn, and beaten bicycle. To illustrate, just this past week I read where two Nigerian brethren were pleading for even a bicycle to use in their preaching efforts.
In this new world to which we affluent Americans would be introduced, there would be no postal service, no police and fire protection as we know them, no public health service, no federal, state or local welfare aids, and outside communications would be completely cut off. There would be one two-room school located three miles away. The nearest "clinic" would be about ten miles away over dirt roads (no pavements, curbs, drainage, or lights). One midwife would staff this "clinic". The total family resources would be one five-dollar bill.
Another article pictured the world's three billion people transformed into a total population of 1,000 people. Sixty of these people would be Americans, and the other 940 making up the community would be the remainder of the world's population. The 60 Americans could expect to live to be more than 70; the other 940 could expect to live to be about 40 years old.
Half of the community's income would be given to the 60 Americans; the other half unequally distributed among the other 940 people. The Americans would have about 15 = times per person as many goods and services as the other 940 people. "The community's total supply of electric power would be consumed at the rate of twelve times as much by the Americans as by all the rest; 22 times as much coal would be used; 21 times as much oil and gasoline; 50 times as much steel; and 50 times as much general equipment of all kinds." The Food and Agricultural Organization estimates that somewhere in the world at least ten thousand persons die each day from starvation. One person out of two in the world is badly nourished, and one person out of three is chronically hungry. "The cold facts are that if the United States were to donate its entire surplus for one year to feed the world's hungry peopleit would mean only two handful of food once each 17 days for every person. Believe it or notif all the food of the world, including all available surplus stores, were equally distributed among each man, woman and childevery human being on earth would be undernourished!"
The deprivation and exploitation of hundreds of millions of the world's population explain the chronic conflict, turmoil, uprisings, and wars. And do not make the mistake of sweeping away all the "have-nots" of the world by the vain imagination that you are better off than they merely because you are more industrious and ingenious than they. Most of what we have in this country is directly attributable to the natural resources that God placed in this good land.
The next time you feel disposed to whine about what you do not have, and to want so much more than you do have, remember your time would be better spent in thanking God for the richness of His grace and blessings to you. Let us all indeed COUNT OUR BLESSINGS DAILY. So doing will humble us, make us sincerely grateful, and make us more sensitive, sympathetic and compassionate toward those who have less than do we. And perhaps these considerations will make us all more disposed to "bear one another's burdens" (Gal. 6:2), "to help the weak" (Acts 20:35), and "to give to him that hath need" (Eph. 4:28).
TRUTH MAGAZINE X: 7, pp. 2-3 April 1966