The Plague and 100 Blessings
March 23, 2020
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Did you know that an observant Jew says a bare minimum of one hundred blessings per day? Those blessings cover the gamut of human experience. They offer a blessing before they eat, like many of us. But they also offer blessings during the meal for different tastes and smells. And after the meal is over—you guessed it—they offer a bookend blessing. Observant Jews bless God for a new day, a new article of clothing, and a new experience. And whenever they experience something pleasurable, it translates into praise.
During the days of King David, a devastating plague is said to have claimed the lives of a hundred Israelites every single day. That’s when a council of Jewish rabbis prescribed the practice of reciting one hundred blessings per day to counteract the plague. According to tradition, the plague stopped immediately. I can’t promise that gratitude will cure whatever ails you (or stop the Coronavirus), but gratitude is a good place to start. And it’s where the double blessing begins.
According to the Talmud, if you enjoy something without saying a blessing, it’s as if you have stolen it. “A man embezzles from God when he makes use of this world without uttering a blessing.” How many little blessings have you shoplifted? How many big blessings make you guilty of grand larceny? The way we make restitution is by recognizing that every good and perfect gift comes from God. Anything less is embezzlement.
I try to live by a little maxim: “Whatever you don’t turn into praise turns into pride.” And there are no exceptions, which means there is no alternative. One of the simplest ways to position ourselves for future blessings is by praising God for past blessings! In fact, we’re not ready for the next blessing until we have adequately thanked God for the last one!
The Batterson family has four values: gratitude, humility, generosity, and courage. Those values are the cardinal points on our compass, and they are not unrelated. Generosity rises or falls to the level of our gratitude. And gratitude is both an art and a science.
A wide variety of well-substantiated studies have found that gratitude increases patience, decreases depression, replenishes willpower, and reduces stress. It doesn’t just lengthen life; it improves the quality of life. And if you want a good night’s sleep, don’t count sheep. Count your blessings!
Most of us are good at praising God for the big things, but we fail to praise God for the little things. And we’re good at praising God after the fact, but not a second before. Gratitude is thanking God after He does it, and that’s great. But faith is next-level gratitude. Faith is thanking God before He does it. It’s prophesying your praise!
Do you remember the ten lepers that Jesus healed? All ten were healed of leprosy, but only one of them was healed of a much worse ailment—ingratitude.
One of them, when he saw that he was healed, came back to Jesus, shouting, “Praise God!” He fell to the ground at Jesus’ feet, thanking him for what he had done. This man was a Samaritan. (Luke 17:15)
Gratitude is a pilgrimage back to the foot of the cross. It’s giving thanks and giving glory to God.
During this current crisis that we find ourselves in, it is more important than ever to tap into God’s Word. The good news? His grace is always on tap!
Mark Batterson serves as lead pastor of National Community Church in Washington, DC. NCC also owns and operates Ebenezers Coffeehouse, The Miracle Theatre, and the DC Dream Center. Mark holds a doctor of ministry degree from Regent University and is the New York Times bestselling author of 17 books, including The Circle Maker, Chase the Lion, and Whisper. Mark and his wife, Lora, have three children and live on Capitol Hill.