God refers to his countless blessings using phrases like “the sands of the sea”. Today let’s play in His sandbox and enjoy a teaspoonful of gospel blessings. Can we together count 1000 grains? Easily.
A few years ago at Thanksgiving, our family tried a new activity. Working from 10 broad starter categories, we swiftly shouted out and scribbled down 100 items in each category. In this way, we were able to rapid-fire list 1000 “Reasons to Be Thankful” in less than an hour. Thinking in terms of categories made it easy to hit 1000 quickly and sometimes count much higher. Here’s what our non-religious categories looked like:
1000+ Reasons to Be Thankful (secular version)
100 foods you love (think desserts!)
100 animals or things in nature
100 household/modern conveniences (walk around)
100 benefits from society (use a phonebook)
100 people you love (check your contacts list)
100 body parts or things your body can do
100 books you love (read the bookshelf titles)
100 movies you love (look through the DVDs)
100 songs you love (check the playlist)
100 bad things that have never happened to you (this last one is my favorite: so fun to list!)
Voila! You have just named 1000 reasons to be thankful! The list above can foster warm feelings even in mixed-faith groups because we share so many blessings.
Now, let’s adapt this activity by switching to some categories that will help us rejoice in our gospel-related blessings. These fun, easy groupings can help you quickly identify 1000+ blessings that have come to you through the restored gospel of Jesus Christ (as taught in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.)
We’re not attempting to be comprehensive, here. We won’t be listing the profound blessings that are specific just to you: like the employment the Lord arranged for you, or the spouse/child you wouldn’t have today without His help. We won’t try to quantify how many promptings you’ve received from the Holy Ghost, or how many family interactions were sweeter through the gospel, numerous as they may be.
No—today we’re just gathering up some low-hanging fruit from the tree of life: items that likely be familiar and applicable to most readers.
Note that many gospel blessings are NOT exclusive to our church alone. Hopefully our friends in other denominations will find many similarities and make their own long lists with the happiest of results!
May exploring this list help you feel encircled by God’s love. For a richer experience, grab a pen and a calculator and let math astound you. Don’t be surprised if you quickly reach 32,752 blessings (I did). And if you want maximum joy, don’t just estimate aggregates. When you actually name items as you go, your cup overflows. I promise.
Now away we go, with ten gospel-related categories, in random order, each with a brief description:
100+ happy musical moments
Read through the indexes of hymns and primary songs. Put a mental check by any song that you enjoy for any reason. Add choir arrangements you’ve sung, and note the popular songs from Latter-day Saint artists on your playlist.
You likely love these songs because you’ve heard them multiple times. The math is fun here: 90 beloved songs x 5 hearings each = 450 happy musical blessings brought to you through the Church. Some of you musicians might hit 10,000+ blessings with this category alone.
100+ doctrinal insights through additional modern scripture
The Bible contains 31,102 verses. Members of the restored Church of Jesus Christ enjoy 10,893 additional verses of scripture in The Book of Mormon, The Doctrine & Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price. How extensively do these enrich our understanding of Biblical doctrines? Grab a paper copy of the “Triple Combination” and thumb through the Index for a few minutes. Watch for the more than 2000 doctrinal terms or headings for which restored scriptures have something to contribute: either reaffirming Biblical truth, or expanding our understanding of it.
100+ specific scripture verses that have taught you
Glance through the 100 doctrinal mastery verses most used in seminary and class manuals, giving a side-thought as to how each one blesses us.
An even sweeter way to count scripture blessings is to flip through your most-used paper scriptures and count the number of verses you marked yourself. If you find something helpful in just 1 out of every 25 verses, that totals 1680 verses that have blessed you by bringing the Lord closer. This total doesn’t even consider how many times a verse returns with new meaning on a repeat occasion.
100+ saintly people you know through Church
Skim through your ward and stake directory. Name every person who has blessed you (or your family) through his/her insights, talents, struggles, service, testimonies, lessons, activities, and friendship. It’s beautiful to see this long list of people who value family, chastity and honesty; who try to be thoughtful and courteous; who won’t cuss insults at you or pressure you toward drugs. Even those you’re not close to would likely pitch in to help if disaster hit your family.
Now consider other wards you’ve lived in throughout your life, including boundary changes, college, mission, travels, etc. Don’t forget missionaries who have passed through your life.
Skimming names doesn’t even begin to count the individual smiles, visits, and calls from those who have become dear friends over many years.
100+ gospel resources at your fingertips
Spend just five minutes random-surfing through the myriad resources in your Gospel Library App, some of which you’ve already enjoyed, and some of which still await you. These stand ready to help you or a loved one at a moment’s need: video clips, manuals, broadcast archives, self-reliance trainings, beautiful artwork, and much more. Dive for a few seconds beyond the 1750 Ensign, New Era, and Friend magazines to the individual articles within each issue (there are 30,000 to browse). You could also scroll through the hundreds of videos on the Church’s YouTube channels and put a few on your watchlist. Or if you’d rather do music, browse beyond the hymnbook to the many other gospel songs in the online library with which you’re not yet acquainted. Lots of joy awaits you here on whatever future day you may need it.
100+ insights from modern apostles of Jesus Christ
The ancient saints at Ephesus or Thessalonica would have been astounded at the 24/7, on-demand access we have to insights from living apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ. General Conference includes 30+ apostolic addresses every year, each talk rich with many insights. Another 4000+ talks from Church leaders are compiled online, such as through conference archives, and BYU speeches. Don’t overlook the 1000+ pages of apostolic insights compiled in the institute manuals available to all Church members in the Gospel Library app. Reading one of these manuals is like sitting down with an entire panel of modern day prophets and apostles for individualized tutoring, as they discuss passage after passage of scripture, with related history and doctrine. We can receive instant updates from their social media accounts too.
100+ soul-stretching opportunities to grow toward godliness
Consider all the times you’ve chosen to sacrifice or serve because you love the Lord. These sacrifices may not always feel like blessings at first, but in retrospect we see that they are. Doing hard things day after day builds spiritual strength in the same way that saplings grow into mighty oaks—one tree-ring at a time.
Name the callings and volunteer opportunities that have forced you to reach for greater faith and charity. (If a calling stretches you an hour each week, that’s 52 stretches annually!) Reflect on other ways you have likely stretched beyond your comfort zone: ministering, fasting, paying tithing, forgiving, defending the Church to a friend, turning down an inappropriate movie, cleaning the church building, etc. Maybe you have to dig deep every morning to read scriptures even though you’d rather do something else. Every morning then counts as a blessing for soul-stretching.
100+ blessings from the restored Priesthood
The Lord tells us that in His ordinances “the power of godliness is manifest”. His power flows to us through the sacrament 50 times a year. Now consider how many blessings-within-blessings are pronounced through the priesthood: at your confirmation, patriarchal blessing, setting-apart blessings for each calling, father’s blessings, etc. Also list times that you have witnessed ordinances bestowed upon friends or loved ones. Don’t forget baptism and temple ordinances you received for yourself or on behalf of your ancestors.
100+ audiences you have with The God of the Universe
Just counting morning and evening prayers, how many personal appointments do you have with Heavenly Father this year? (Hint: 365 x 2, or more if you want). They are all on His calendar, and He will be there for as long as you care to stay. He will hear every complaint and consider every request. Think of how hard it would be to get this kind of attention from earthly royalty.
We’ve all offered some prayers that still feel unanswered. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t heard, with answers already packaged and on their way to you. This I promise you: The God of the Universe listens to every one of them.
100+ sins forgiven, and more avoided
We could count waaayyy past 1000 in totaling all the times we’ve failed at perfect obedience. Yet our Savior miraculously invites us back to try again, for a fresh start, every single day, 365 days a year—or 366 on leap year. Next time you’re tempted to count your failures, count the instances of His forgiveness instead.
Also consider how His grace has prevented you from hurting yourself and others in additional ways. If devotions and prayers have helped you turn away from just one unkindness or uncleanness daily, that’s 365 additional times that Jesus’s merciful grace attended you this year.
Voila! You did it! More than 1000 blessings from your Church membership!
Along the way you probably have realized lots of categories that we left out above. So for you super-grateful folks who want to keep going, here are just a few more random bonus categories you could explore:
100+ beautiful things about Church-owned properties
100+ talents, skills, or crafts you’ve done at activities
100+ kindnesses shown to a member of your family
100+ books/articles from Latter-day Saint authors
100+ recipes you’ve tasted at Church
100+ great deals at Deseret Industries Thrift Stores
100+ tips and tricks you’ve learned through seminars on emergency preparedness, genealogy, personal finance, etc.
100+ church basketball/softball/soccer/football games
100+ times you’ve reflected on death/spirit world without fear
100+ times you felt inclusive brother/sisterhood with strangers because of gospel teachings
So here in God’s sandbox, trying to count through our teaspoon of blessings, we discover that our best tweezers aren’t enough. The sand is everywhere! In our shoes, in our hair, in between our toes, in the cuff of our jeans, underneath our fingernails. It’s hopeless to count it. We will just be certain to thank Him for it, today and in days to come. These may be some very long, very grateful prayers…
…Meanwhile, do you like math? or blessings? or leaving comments? Come add to our sandbox game … What other categories occur to you? In what happier ways can we count our daily blessings?