I had spent an hour at the grocery store, carefully keeping track of each item I placed in my cart and watching every dollar. We’re working diligently to become debt-free, and the budget is squeaky tight right now. I didn’t begrudge it, but in the middle of birthday season in our family, I was stressed.
I walked out with only two small bags of carefully chosen items. That’s when I saw him, at the edge of the parking lot.
His cardboard sign read, “Anything is a blessing”.
He had only a few teeth left and one bag of possessions to his name. I realized that everything he owned could fit into the two sacks I had just purchased. He rained words of blessing on me in exchange for my measly $2, and as I drove away I prayed for him with tears in my eyes. What was his name? I wished I had asked. I decided to call him Gus.
Anything is a blessing. But I wasn’t living that way.
I thought of the people in Houston, whose homes are filled with water. I thought of those in South Asia who have almost nothing left after a month of devastating flooding. Of those in Montana, close to my heart, who are fighting forest fires – fires so destructive we are affected by the smoke, several states away. Anything is a blessing.
No, I wasn’t living it, certainly not that day. Actually, I had spent most of the day feeling sorry for myself. It was my birthday, 34 years, but I was mad because my husband went out that morning instead of staying home to spoil me. I was upset because I hadn’t gotten the Starbucks I wanted. Starbucks. But to so many, anything – any single thing right now – is a blessing.
I couldn’t get the words out of my head. All day they repeated, tumbling through my mind like a waterfall over rocks, softening my edges. I began to believe them. The surprise coconut candy you can usually only get at the holidays… a blessing. The free gnome home I found listed online… a blessing, a birthday gift from God. I had wanted cute yard decorations for my birthday, but didn’t ask anyone for them. He knew. The hours spent repainting gnome hats and calming my spirit; the $1.50 mums; the kitchen floor mopped by my husband. All blessings. I just had to watch for them, to notice them when they came.
Because every good and perfect gift comes from above. (James 1:17)
That night we had a joint birthday party for me and my grandmother. 34 and 77 years of blessings. I was surprised to open present after present, so many things I had wanted but hadn’t expected to receive. With each gift I felt both happier and more sad, thinking of Gus, of how grateful he was for so little. Anything is a blessing, and here I was with more than I could carry.
My dad prayed over us, thanking God for our years and for blessings we may not even recognize. How fitting. The words echoed. Jehovah El Roi, the God Who sees me. Anything is a blessing. Lord, help me to see it. Open my eyes to those who have less, show me how I can serve them. Help me to increase my gratitude and contentment, to see all things for what they are – good, good gifts from You; Your hand in my life; Your undeserved love for me.
Anything is a blessing. Everything is a blessing. Let us never forget.