Psalm 136 rocked my soul. It is a long, beautifully repetitive, poetic praise song that has the same line in it twenty- six times, in fact. Read it out loud for full impact.

Over and over again, in what can accurately be described as broken-record style, the psalmist repeated, “His faithful love endures forever.” It reminded me of the reality that praise should flow from our lips in the same way — continually, repetitively, regularly and without ceasing.

Several years ago, I read “One Thousand Gifts” by Ann Voskamp, and it profoundly changed the way I viewed my day-to-day life. Voskamp challenged readers to stop counting the hardships and instead intentionally count the many blessings. The little, seemingly mundane things are so ordinary that we hardly notice them. A cool breeze on a scaldingly hot day. A smile from a stranger at the store. A green light when we’re already running late.

So I took the challenge. I began to count. Listing all of the little things. Looking for them. Experiencing grace in the everyday. With those lists and intentional noticing (and the resulting slowing down of life) came a wellspring of joy. A peaceful disposition, an unusual contentment, ruled my soul. I inadvertently replaced the consistent complaining with consistent counting.

Counting the Wrong Things

And then — somewhere — life happened. Flat tires. Traffic jams. Diaper blasts. Toddler meltdowns. Broken glass bowls. Unexpected bills. Unplanned weather. Disappointments. Frustrations. My friends hurts, when I was helpless to stop or sooth their broken hearts. And sometimes, I hurt too — the pain in my soul suffocated the joy that once resided.

You see, I never stopped counting. But I began counting something else. I counted the bills coming in every month. And I counted the delays. And I counted the things that were unjust and unfair. I counted the times people offended me. I counted my failures. And I counted my should-haves, would-haves and could-haves. The lists were long, and I realized you can’t count two things at once. You never can.

You will either count the many gifts from God, or you will count what you don’t have and what you wish you could change.

The List in Psalm 136

Reading Psalm 136 served as a timely reminder, cautioning me to consider what exactly it is I’m counting. These hidden lists make all the difference. What was David counting? The mighty miracles, the majesty of the skies, water, the moon and stars. He counted God’s powerful, delivering arm and His leadership; he counted the specific times in history where God had worked on behalf of His people.

So I stopped, and I counted. I reflected on what God has done, and my soul repetitively cried, “His faithful love endures forever!”

In less then five minutes, my little list outnumbered David’s. My friend, today (right now), take a few minutes and just stop. Stop to count. Stop to praise. When you count the things that matter, you can count on a heart full of praise.