Tomorrow I'm getting all my immunization shots and pills for my trip to Uganda. I didn't know there were so many serious diseases that were so easy to get in Africa. I guess I've wanted to go for so long and have thought so much about the needs and opportunities there that I never thought in detail about the manifold health hazards. It's striking to realize that I'm getting around ten shots and seventeen pills to spend nine days in a country where millions of people live.
I just finished filling out a patient questionnaire that I'm supposed to bring to my appointment tomorrow. On page two, it has two large columns of questions with "Please check yes or no" at the top of both. There are approximately one hundred health issues in these two columns. I answered "yes" to two of them. I'm allergic to one uncommon medicine and I once had a bad headache when hiking at an altitude above 6,000 feet.
I am so blessed.
I don't believe in a health-and-wealth gospel, but I do believe in Christian gratitude for thousands of earthly blessings. The shield that God has been to me throughout life in terms of my health is amazing. As in, I am amazed. You can't circle "no" on a medical form as many times as I did without pausing and considering the greatness of God's mercy. And it has been mercy. I have done enough to deserve ten thousand diseases, but I have received ten thousand days of life. This is not reasonable, friends. This is not a fair deal. God is not fair. God is merciful. I know what fair is, and it's not what I've received. There is an unfairness in God that is wonderful.
There are days when we remember our blessings, and there are days when we forget. Sadly, when weighed in the scales, the latter prove to be far heavier. Sinners have short-term memories of grace, and I am a sinner.
You may not have experienced health like I have; I am certain that most of the Ugandans that I will meet next week haven't. You may not feel blessed on any given day, whether that be because you had to go to bed late and get up early, are frustrated with your job, are watching a loved one die, have been forgotten by friends, are battling seemingly undefeatable sin in your life, or simply feel overwhelmed by a chaotic week.
But whether you woke up today with a happy sense of the goodness of God or not, it may do you well to take your soul by its shoulders, look it in the eye, and say:
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And all that is within me, bless His holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget none of His benefits;
Who pardons all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases;
Who redeems your life from the pit,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion;
Who satisfies your years with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle (Psalm 103:1-5).
The Lord is good, always. Remembering that — really remembering it — makes for happy and fruitful Christians.
So look at the roses. Watch the clouds as you walk down the sidewalk instead of watching your feet. Or watch your feet and marvel that you can walk. Put your hand over your heart and feel it beating. Have a good laugh. Look at your syllabus and consider what you get to learn instead of what you have to do. Open a book, scan your eyes across the words on the page, and marvel at the gift of language and literacy. And next time it rains, walk outside, look at the grass and the trees and the neighborhood, and be astonished that God makes the rain fall on both the righteous and the unrighteous (Matthew 5:45).
Every day we go through a buffet line of the Lord's goodness. Sometimes in our rush to enjoy everything before us, we gorge ourselves without noticing how good it is and how good He is. So stop and survey the feast in front of you today before you dig in and enjoy. Notice the colors and the variety and the presentation and the aroma. Then taste and see that the Lord is good.