Giving Thanks through Hell and High Water (Backstory for the song ‘Blessed’)

I remember the words of a respected elder, when I’d ask how she was doing.  Instead of responding with a generic ‘Excellent!’ or ‘Great!’ like some do (when they’re really struggling).  She’d sometimes say, ‘The horse won’t ride, the cow won’t give milk, the chickens won’t lay eggs – but HalleluYah anyhow!’

I still chuckle about this today when I think about it.  But this was her humorous yet honest way of telling me all was NOT well, but she was going to praise Yah just the same. And that’s the challenge isn’t it? It’s easy to rejoice when ‘belly full,’ so to speak.  But let you miss a meal or two, or possibly lose your job, get furloughed, health challenges, family troubles, etc. – not so much, huh?  When all hell breaks loose in your life, where’s your joy? It probably went right out the door with your finances or your peace.  Giving the Most High praise when you’re going through doesn’t always come easy, but it is an important practice.

Listening to the song Blessed, some may draw the conclusion that it was a ‘belly full’ kind of situation for me.  But actually, it was just the opposite.  I wrote Blessed when I was in a time of deep struggle.  In fact, it was one of those times where it seemed the fires of hell had been unleashed in my life.

Like most hardworking people, we were living paycheck to paycheck, so it didn’t take much to alter our lifestyle completely.  For us, it was an injury. My husband had to leave his job when an old injury resurfaced with excruciating pain. He not only had to quit, but needed several months to go through physical rehabilitation.  As a temp, he had no benefits. So, half of our income was gone. We had no way to pay rent, and were facing homelessness and didn’t even know how we were going to feed the family let alone pay bills.  Needless to say, we had to move ‘out of the hills and into the hood’ – into a government subsidized apartment complex.   

I could’ve easily fallen into depression and despair, because we just didn’t have the means to do the things or live the lifestyle we wanted to live at that time.  And battling anemia myself, I was not only mentally but physically exhausted. Hopelessness was creeping in. Gratitude was certainly not something that came easy for me at this time, but it was very necessary for my own sanity.  

Philippians 4:6-7 “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to Elohim. And the peace of Elohim, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds…”

Studies on gratitude show that people who nurture feelings of sincere gratefulness, through regular practices like counting their blessings, gratitude journaling, or chanting psalms of praise, reduce ailments and demonstrate more overall wellness.  Specifically, an attitude of gratitude increases dopamine in the brain, which reduces anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, and comfort.

Through the song Blessed, Yah showed me how He was still blessing me and my family, even in this devastating time.  It was this attitude of gratitude that sustained me.

Being able to see Yah’s goodness in the midst of your tragedy, may be the very thing that carries you through it.  The power of praise cannot be understated.  Being grateful in the struggle empowered me and gave me strength to get through the madness.

Nehemiah 8:10 “And do not be grieved, for the joy of YHWH is your strength.”

Hopefully, the song Blessed will bring this same strength and hope to others.

LYRICS to BLESSED by Queen Makedah

Chorus:  I am blessed, must confess, I am blessed!  Ah, ah, ah.  I am blessed, never no less, I am blessed!  Ah, ah, ah.

Verse 1: Working hard every night and day / Cause I got rent and bills to pay / But I must give thanks cause I’m able / Yah bless to put food on my table

Verse 2:  All around the world times is hard / People hungry, many are starving / Have nuff so I can’t complain / Yes, I got to give thanks and praise

(Chorus repeats)

Verse 3:  Folks workin’ hard barely survivin’ / Prices goin’ up, rents gettin’ hiyya / Today is certain future’s unsure / But He’ll make a way to endure

Verse 4:  Hurricanes, tornadoes, and storms / You could lose all you worked for / Thieves and robbers could take it away / So don’t worry what tomorrow may bring

Count your blessings one by one.

The elders used to sing the old spiritual, ‘Count your blessings one by one, count your blessings look what Yah has done!’  Counting your blessings one by one, is a way to counteract pain and dread. You remind your own mind, that you are in fact blessed, and you begin to change your brain chemistry and mood.  Author Louise Hay (You can Heal your Life) said she practiced counting 10 blessings before she got out of bed every morning, as one of her ways to counteract depression.  Through transforming her thinking, she was eventually able to overcome her illnesses.

Ecclesiasticus 2.4  “Whatsoever is brought upon thee take cheerfully, and be patient when thou art changed to a low estate.”  

When I was inspired to write the song Blessed, it was like a gratitude journal, making me conscious of all I had to be thankful for – life, health, strength, food on the table, safe warm place for my family and I to stay, most importantly the love of family and Yah himself.  Yes, I was truly blessed!  I embraced this realization, but making gratitude a way of thinking had to be developed.

Changing your Attitude

Cultivating an attitude of gratitude takes practice.  Where do you begin?  When you are doing well or going through your worst, give Him thanks.  Instead of complaining about what isn’t happening, praise Yah for what he is doing for you right at that moment, and what he is going to do for you – every day.  Before you get out of bed, thank the Father for life.  Begin your day with chanting the Psalms of praise and even make it a part of your meditation and conversation throughout the day.   Like a child, count your blessings in prayer, from the smallest to the greatest.  Ask the Father to open your mind to see the good things He’s doing for you, to see the purpose even for your struggle and pain.

Listen to Blessed on Spotify:

BUY Blessed here:

Credits for the song Blessed (Chocolate Kisqo riddim) – Lyrics by Queen Makedah / Music by Bruce Benjamin/Bernard Bradley MUSICIANS:  Stamina Allstars band:  Drums Bruce Benjamin / Bass Herbert Daly / Guitar Mike Mongiello / Guitar Rusty Zinn / Piano/Organ John Nevin / Keys Franklyn “Bubbler” Waul / Percussion Clive Hunt.

Visit the QM Official Website at www.queenmakedah.com for more music or subscribe to the Queen Makedah Youtube channel.  Blessed will will also be available on the Peace Process album coming this Spring 2019.  To keep up with the latest music news, sign up for the mailing list here (right page) or on the artist website.

Here are a few more scriptures about holding on to your joy in the struggle for meditation and prayer:

Psalm 32:7 You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance.”

Psalm 118:24 “This is the day Yah has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it.”

James 1:2-4  “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”

Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love Elohim all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

1 Thes.  5:18 “In everything give thanks: for this is the will of Elohim in Messiah concerning you.”  

1 Peter 4:12-16Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Messiah’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.”

Blessed Love!  QM

 

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