Count Your Blessings

mel ile a vachMy husband just returned from a mission to trip to the Haitian Island, Ile a Vache. On this island the boys do not wear pants until they are about 8 years old. Why? Because they don’t have them. The children get an 8 years of education and then they are done with school unless they can prove to the government via testing that they deserve to continue in their education and can pay atleast $250 a year in tuition. In Ile a Vache $250 might as well be a million. The houses are made of sticks and palm fronds. The women walk over a mile every day to get their daily water from the community well. Also a 500 gallon water storage tank fills with rain water. This storage tank serves 200 families. The men fish every child ile vachday for the food they eat. No fish, means no food for the day. Yet, they live, they love, and they serve God with all their hearts. Everywhere you go in Ile a Vache the people are thanking God for their daily blessings. There are messages written on the buildings and the boats that proclaim, “Beniswa l’eternel” or “Glora Jezi.” By our standards they have nothing, yet their hearts are full of thanks and praise.
I remember our own history, on December 23, 1776 “THESE are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.” I cannot imagine spending the season that honors Christ’s birth sitting in a cold tent, in a land that once was called home but now was called “battlefield,” fighting my own government so my child could be free. I washington prayingcannot imagine the sorrow and frustration they must have felt, looking around and seeing so few fighting instead of many being shoulder to shoulder in the name of Liberty. John Adams wrote to Abigail these words, “I am wearied out, with Expectations that the Massachusetts Troops would have arrived, e’er now, at Head Quarters. — Do our People intend to leave the Continent in the Lurch? Do they mean to submit? … I am more sick and more ashamed of my own Countrymen, than ever I was before.” Elizabeth Adams wrote to Samuel Adams describing the escape route they had developed if the British Regulars discovered their location.
America does not know this heartbreak. We do not wake every morning with the knowledge that we will have to fight our neighbor, our brother, or our countrymen on a brutal battlefield just to be free. We do not know what it is to be separated from our loved ones, living in fear that our government will come and destroy our homes, ravage our women, and we don’t live every day with an escape route.
Yet they fought on, knowing the prize far exceeded the sacrifice. Paine said, “Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated.”
house ile vacheOur liberty is highly rated. We are blessed. We are blessed because so many sacrificed so much so we would be free. We are blessed to live in a place where we can actually complain that it takes too long to get a latte from Starbucks or a hamburger from McDonalds. Our blessings are not a result of our prosperity. We have prosperity because of our Liberty! Our Liberty is a God given gift, not the gift of government – a gift that was slowly stolen, then recaptured through blood, sweat and sacrifice. Jefferson wrote, “God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that His justice cannot sleep forever.” Franklin told the Constitutional Convention, “I have lived, Sir, a long time, and the longer I live, the more convincing proofs I see of this truth- that God Governs in the affairs of men. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without his aid? Have we now forgotten that powerful friend?”
boat haitiOur Liberty was secured by the sacrifices of men and women who believed that gift to be more valuable than their lives. Mercy Otis Warren wrote, ““I have my fears. Yet, notwithstanding the complicated difficulties that rise before us, there is no receding…May nothing ever check that glorious spirit of freedom which inspires the patriot in the cabinet, and the hero in the field, with courage to maintain their righteous cause, and to endeavor to transmit the claim to posterity, even if they must seal the rich conveyance to their children with their own blood.”
Let our hearts be overwhelmed with thankfulness this season and this coming year. Without realizing just how blessed we are, we become complacent, ungrateful, and filled with feelings of entitlement. I cannot say this enough; we are Beniswa l'eternelblessed beyond measure, beyond understanding, and beyond what we deserve. My prayer is that we become so overwhelmed by the blessings of God that we cannot help but trust God for our needs and defend Liberty regardless of the consequences. Let us take a moment to reflect so we can share Mercy’s resolve to pass on these blessings to our posterity…And as Franklin warned, let us not forget that “Powerful Friend.” There is indeed a friend, Jesus Christ that sticks closer than a brother. Through the sacrifice of His blood we have hope, we have power, we have eternal life. We are America. We are Liberty. We are blessed.
Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is Liberty.