Recency Bias (or What Have You Done For Me Lately?)

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5:18)

This morning on my way to the gym, a radio advertisement brought up the idea of recency bias with regard to investments.  Many people panicked at the beginning of 2014 when the Dow lost 326 (2.1%) points on February 3rd.  This came after a January which saw the Dow lose 5.3%.  What people forgot, was that the Dow had earned them 27.36% during the previous year–2013.  The point was that people have developed a tendency to only remember the latest overly inflated negatives.  Look at your local newspaper or listen to one of the televised newscasts.  Compare how many uplifting positive reports there are to the number of reports there are regarding things that are illegal, immoral, or simply discouraging.  It will be no contest.  The negative reports will outweigh the positive.  In our globally connected world, tragedies on the other side of the world are broadcast to us nearly as soon as they happen.   As Christians living in a fallen world, we face the same problems and trials as everyone else.  God never promised that we all would be healthy, or wise, or rich, or famous, or even loved by this world.

What He did promise was that He would love us and provide for our needs.  He gave His Son as a sacrifice so that we could get back into fellowship with Him.  And He has promised that we can spend eternity with Him.

God still provides the daily blessings as well.  We just have to take the time to recognize and acknowledge them.  Philippians 4:8 tells us where to start. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

And if you still need more encouragement, read these lyrics to an old hymn, Count Your Blessings (Johnson Oatman, Jr. 1906).

When upon life’s billows, you are tempest-tossed. 

When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost.

Count your many blessings.  Name them one by one.

And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.

Chorus: Count your blessings.  Name them one by one.

Count your blessings.  See what God has done.

Count your blessings.  Name them one by one.

Count your many blessings.  See what God has done.

Are you ever burdened With a load of care?

Does the cross seem heavy You are called to bear?

Count your many blessings, Ev’ry doubt will fly,

And you will keep singing as the days go by.

When you look at others with their lands and gold,

Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold.

Count your many blessings, money cannot buy

Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.

So, amid the conflict, whether great or small,

Do not be discouraged, God is over all.

Count your many blessings, angels will attend.

Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

When I think of the times that God has delivered me from near car accidents, or lifted me out of various health issues, or put the right people around me to lift me up when I have been feeling down, or provided the financial means to stay afloat when the jobs just weren’t available–I can’t even begin to tell Him how grateful am.  And those are just a few of the things I’m aware of.  There are many, many more that I can come up with.  Imagine all those circumstances that He took care of without me even knowing–just because He loves me.  It’s simply awe-inspiring.  So keep on counting those blessings.

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