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Count your blessings


Ernest Onuoha

As we stand on the threshold of a closing year, the author of the hymn “COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS”: JOHNSON OATMAN, JR. (1856-1922) beckons on all God’s people to count their blessing from Him within this period. It is true that events within the closing year may not have been palatable, especially with some attendant issues such as fuel scarcity, high cost of living, diseases defying solutions, unemployment, corruption and high mortality, among others. Yet, it is the hymn writer’s admonition that we should count our blessings from God.

The hymn writer was writing from experience and experience, they say, “Is the best teacher.” He was 36 years old, when he found his talent. He recognised that he would never be the singer that his father was. He also realised that he would never be a soul winner that he had dreamed in his heart to be. It was in 1892 that Johnson took up his pen and began to write hymns. He finally fulfilled the call of God into the ministry that God had chosen him for. Within three years, by 1895, the world was singing hundreds of his songs.

Interestingly, he wrote an average of over 200 gospel songs and hymns a year for over a period of twenty-five years. When publishers insisted, for business reasons, that he set a price for each hymn, Oatman stipulated his own terms: He would only accept one dollar per hymn. As we have already stated, he was not a great singer or preacher, but he found his talent in writing hymns and he made his contribution to his father’s faith. Through his sermon and songs, he has reached millions of people that he could never have reached from the pulpit. His messages in hymns still reach multitudes through such gospel hymns as the one that he wrote in 1897, ”Count Your Blessings.”

Indeed, when we undertake personal reflection, we will marvel at the avalanche of God’s blessings upon our lives. Think about His deliverances, healings, provisions, joyous moments and celebrations. These things should move us to bless the name of the Lord. We should know that God is not yet through with us and so, we should live with great hope realising that what is ahead is far more better than what we are passing through now.

Therefore, as we anxiously prepare to move into the year of God’s remembrance (Genesis 30:22-24), may we with all humility go with great hope and expectation that our God will not disappoint us. So, with a thankful heart that is forever grateful to Him, may we join the hymn writer to sing meditatively stanza one of his hymns:

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,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.
It is well!
Rector, Ibru International Ecumenical Centre, Agbarha-Otor, Delta State.

In this article:
Ernest Onuoha
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