The Blessing of Zero
The other day, I was taking a walk with the Lord, when He laid a new idea on my heart—the “Alphabet Thanking Game”. As easy as “ABC”, it goes like this: For every letter, think of something to thank God for that starts with that letter. Admittedly, this could last an extremely long time if we’re using Chinese characters or the three Japanese alphabets (which includes Chinese characters)! But, for an American like me, I only need to come up with 26 things each time J I decided it’s ok and even more fun to think of more than one thing for each letter, but there’s two conditions: 1) They have to be things we’re sincerely and personally thankful for; and, 2) We can’t repeat the same thing for at least the next week (or next 7 times, in case we forget to do it some days). Given the second rule, then, it may not be a good idea to say too many things for one letter in one day!
Otherwise, there’s so much to choose from—experiences, people, creation, gifts we’ve been given, possessions, as well as characteristics of the Lord Himself. So, going along that first day, things came to mind – Aardvarks (just kidding – actually, it was “apples”), Beaches (no surprise to anyone who knows me or reads my blog posts), Cats… hey, the “Q” was easy—QUINLAN (my wee grandson)! Then I got to “Z”—Zebras? Yeah, I really like them, but I don’t exactly encounter them often. Zithers? Fun instruments to play and hear, but again, a rare experience. Zero?
“Zero??!”, I thought, “What’s so great about zero? Isn’t that the same as “nothing”? Or, worse yet, who wants to “go from hero to zero”? But as I pondered zero, I realized how many blessings it carries. Financially, put zero by itself and we can’t afford anything. But add it to another number and watch our resources multiply tenfold, a hundredfold, and so on—the more the better (before the decimal point) when we receive a gift or paycheck!
Or, apply “zero” to anything we’d rather avoid – troubles, anxiety, bills, debt, diseases/ailments, traffic, accidents, etc. (some students may add “homework or “tests” here). How about enemies? Who wants enemies? By enemy, I mean anyone who not only “hates” us, but anyone who mistreats, ignores, or in some way makes life miserable for us. Wouldn’t it be great if everyone liked us and treated us well?
Is this zero even possible? Jesus told us, “In this world you will have trouble.” (Jn. 16:33). But He didn’t end there. He went on to declare, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
Some troubles we can’t control at all. Other things we can minimize, like the amount of debt we get into, or the amount of anxiety we feel, recognizing that these too take outside, often supernatural, help, to get rid of. That’s why, in Phil. 4:6, we’re told, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything, by prayer and petition, let your requests be made known to God.” Or, in relationships, we can reduce the number of enemies we have by “being at peace with all people as much as it’s possible” (Rom. 12:18, paraphrased).
The rest is up to the Lord. He’s the One Who overcomes the world! He’s the One who gets us through the trials, illnesses, other people’s behavior and attitudes, and adverse conditions of life. On earth “stuff happens”. But He beats the stuff. He negates its power to control or ruin us. He makes it like zero— even though we get hurt in the short run, ultimately, the bad effects will disappear, as “in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Rom. 8:28)
Oh the blessing of zero! And the blessing of so many other things too. Let’s play the “Alphabet Thanking Game”!