Count your blessings

 by Henrylito D. Tacio

Reading is one of my favorite pastimes. I have a collection of books and magazines. Recently, while reading some back issues of ‘Reader’s Digest,’ one of the features that caught was the story of Major Frederick Franks, written by Suzanne Chazin.

Here’s the story:

Major Frederick Franks stared at the Christmas tree in his drab hospital room. It was the time of year for joy, but Franks felt only sadness. Seven months earlier, in May 1970, while he was in Cambodia, grenade shrapnel had torn into the lower half of his left leg. Doctors were preparing to amputate it.

Franks had graduated from the US military academy at West Point, where he was captain of the baseball team, and he had planned to make the army his career. Now, retirement seemed the only option. Although Franks felt he still had a lot to offer the army – combat experience, technical knowledge, an ability to solve problems – he knew that soldiers with severe injuries seldom return to active duty. They must pass a yearly physical-fitness test, which includes a three-kilometer run or walk. Franks wasn’t sure he would be up to the task with prosthesis.

After the surgery, Franks felt saddest of all about giving up his prowess on the baseball diamond. At weekly games, he batted while someone else ran the bases for him.

Waiting to bat one day, he watched a teammate slide into base. ‘What’s the worst that could happen if I tried the same thing?’ he thought.

In his next turn with the bat, Franks hit the ball into center field. Waving away his runner, he began a painful, stiff-legged jog. Between first and second, he saw the outfielder throw the ball towards the second baseman. Closing his eyes, he willed himself forward and slid into second. The umpire called “Safe!” and Franks smiled triumphantly.

A few years later, Franks led a squadron through military exercises in rough terrain. His superiors wondered if an amputee was up to the challenge, but Franks showed them he was. “Losing a leg has taught me that a limitation is as big or small as you make it,” he said. “The key is to concentrate on what you have, not what you don’t have.”

In simpler terms, count your blessing each day. Sweat that small stuff, so goes a popular saying. “The things that count most cannot be counted,” a friend once told me. William A. Ward agrees: “The more we count the blessings we have, the less we crave the luxuries we haven’t.”

I once visited in a beautiful home just at sundown. I looked out of the large window and remarked what a magnificent view they had with the setting sun. “Oh.” said our host, “why, that happens so often we don’t even see it any more.” I wonder how many of us are like my friend is with his view of the sunset. We have so many blessings that we never take time to look at them or count them.

On a gloomy, rainy morning, it was the turn of an eight-year-old boy to say the blessing at breakfast. “We thank Thee for this beautiful day,” he prayed. His mother, a little bit surprised, asked him why he said that when the day was anything but beautiful. “Mother,” said he, with rare wisdom, “never judge a day by its weather.”

People have been wonderful to me in the good times and the bad, and I’ve come to believe that you do indeed reap what you sow,” said Bob Losure. “For those who constantly gripe about life, I turn and walk away. For those who speak negatively about people behind their backs, I move on.”

Look at the sunny side of everything,” Christian D. Larsen urges. “Think only of the best, work only for the best, and expect only the best. Be as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your won. Forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future. Give everyone a smile. Spend so much time improving yourself that you have no time left to criticize others. Be too big for worry and too noble for anger.”

In some instances, it may not be enough to count your blessings. You have to share your blessings to others, too. “Make something beautiful of your life,” Kathie Lee Gifford wrote in her 1992 book, I Can’t Believe I Said That.’ “Be a blessing, not a burden. Bloom wherever you are planted.”

A couple of years ago, a voyaging ship was wrecked during a storm at sea. Fortunately, there were two survivors — both males — who were able to swim to a small, desert-like island.

Not knowing what else to do, the two survivors agree that they had no other recourse but to pray to God. However, to find out whose prayer was more powerful, they agreed to divide the territory between them and stay on opposite sides of the island.

The first thing the first man prayed for was food. The next morning, the first man saw a fruit-bearing tree on his side of the land, and he was able to eat its fruit. The other man’s parcel of land remained barren.

After a week, the first man was lonely and he decided to pray for a wife. The next day, another ship was wrecked, and the only survivor was a woman who swam to his side of the land. On the other side of the island, there was nothing.

Soon the first man prayed for a house, clothes, more food. The next day, like magic, all of these were given to him. However, the second man still had nothing.

Finally, the first man prayed for a ship, so that his wife and he could leave the island. In the morning, he found a ship docked at his side of the island.

The first man boarded the ship with his wife and decided to leave the second man on the island. He considered the other man unworthy to receive God’s blessings, since none of his prayers had been answered.

As the ship was about to leave, the first man heard a voice from heaven booming, “Why are you leaving your companion on the island?”

My blessings are mine alone, since I was the one who prayed for them,” the first man answered. “His prayers were all unanswered, and so he does not deserve anything.”

You are mistaken!” the voice rebuked him. “He had only one prayer, which I answered. If not for that, you would not have received any of my blessings.”

Tell me,” the first man asked the voice, “what did he pray for that I should owe him anything?” The voice replied, “He prayed that all your prayers be answered.”

For all we know, our blessings are not the fruits of our prayers alone, but those of another praying for us.

Charles Dickens reminds: “Reflect upon your present blessings, of which every man has many; not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” And a Chinese proverb states, “Blessings never come in pairs; misfortunes never come alone.” — ###


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