The 100 Blessings Challenge

Yael Eckstein  |  July 26, 2020

An empty glass sitting on a ledge with a lit up city behind it.

The king rejoices in your strength, LORD.
    How great is his joy in the victories you give! — Psalm 21:1

In honor of my father, Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, and his lifework helping Christians understand the Jewish roots of their faith, I offer you one of his devotional teachings from the beloved Psalms.

Imagine for a moment that you have gone for hike on a nice summer morning. The sun is out, the sky is clear, and you set out on your path. Now imagine that during the hike, you make a wrong turn and become lost. Morning has turned to noon and the sun is blaring. Your water is long gone, your mouth is parched, and your strength is waning. Finally, you find your way back to civilization and make a beeline for the nearest source of water. “Thank you, Lord!” you say as you gulp down the water. Water never tasted that good!

Now contrast that experience with one that we encounter almost every day. Water is all around us — from the sink, the water dispenser, in fancy bottles. Water now comes in dozens of flavors and can be fortified with vitamins. And you know what? Most people take it completely for granted. Big deal, water is everywhere.

Isn’t it ironic? The more we have of something, the less we appreciate it. When we lack something and then we receive it — even if it’s only a small amount — we overflow with gratitude. But when we have something in abundance, our tendency is to overlook the blessings.

In Psalm 21, King David modeled just the opposite approach. The psalm begins, “The king rejoices in your strength, LORD. How great is his joy in the victories you give!” David was king, which meant that he had everything and anything that he could ever want. Wealth was his. Honor was his. Victory was his. But what did David say? It’s all from the Lord. David rejoiced in the blessings that came from God. He didn’t take a single one for granted nor did he think that he was the source of his blessings. David understood that all his gifts and strength were from the Lord, and he was so very grateful.

According to Jewish tradition, during a certain period in David’s reign, 100 people died prematurely each day. The spiritual source was eventually uncovered, and the following remedy was prescribed: Every person was commanded to say 100 blessings a day — or 100 expressions of gratitude. The decree went into effect, and the plague stopped immediately. Ever since then, it has been the Jewish custom to recite at least 100 blessings a day. We are careful to maintain a state of gratitude, lest we find ourselves cut off from our blessings.

Everything — from the food we eat, to our physical abilities, to the people in our lives — is a blessing from God. Let’s bless and be blessed.

Your turn:

Take the 100 Blessing Challenge! Can you find 100 things to be grateful about today? Let us know how you do!

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