Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Truth About Blessings


Holidays! A time to reflect upon the blessings we are most grateful for: Family, friends, homes, and other stuff we deem important for a better quality of life. Right? I’ve been mulling this around in my head . . . what is the truth about "being blessed?"

This phrase, I am so blessed, catches my ears now and again and usually is proceed by the person listing their entire blessings one by one (excuse the pun). This causes me to ask, do American Christians only feel blessed by God when good things come their way? And if we are blessed only by what seems good and pleasing to us, what happens to our faith when the “blessings” turn a shade of gray? When the fine stuff, or dreams we have, are thrashed against the adversities of life—twisting and contorting them into what seems like curses rather than blessings.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE BLESSED BY GOD?
My online dictionary says it’s to be, “found with favor and protection from God.” When I hear Christians talk about how blessed they are, I think of those outside of the Christian faith, and I see them blessed also. And are we to say those less fortunate then us are not blessed? Scripture states, “But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous,” (Mat 5:44 & 45 NASB; Italics mine for emphasis).

I recall reading Psalm 73, written by a man named Asaph. He was conflicted when he “saw the prosperity of the wicked.” He was bothered that they did not struggle like most people of his time in Israel. To him the wicked and arrogant seemed free from afflictions and not beset by human tribulations. It was not until Asaph, went into the sanctuary of God, in which he understood the true meaning of life, he wrote, “When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny,” (Psalm 73:16-17). The fact is, certain blessing do fall upon the forgiven and unforgiven alike.  

Have you not thought, hey I do everything I'm supposed to do but my ungodly neighbor prospers more than I do?

The scriptures say. “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world but lose his soul?” (Mar 8:36). Prosperity does not equal blessings from God; although, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows,” (James 1:7). I see balance. Every perfect gift is a blessing from God but seeking to gain more can bring destruction.

As I reflect on blessings, I think of the simple aspects of life, which are continually with us; yet we take for granted or disregard. Blessings to me, when I lay aside all material belongings, are:

  • Waking each morning to another day
  • Receiving new mercy from God every day
  • Having running water to drink, wash my hands, and bathe with
  • Breathing air
  • Food to eat
  • The ability to use my senses: seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, smelling
  • Being loved and loving back
  • Experiencing pain so that I can know the comfort of God
  • Knowing God through Christ His Son

WHAT DO THE BLESSED LOOK LIKE?
Could it be that we mistake being blessed with prosperity? And yet again, is prosperity confused with material wealth rather then spiritual wealth? Jesus said, in Matthew 5, blessed are:

  • The poor in spirit
  • The meek
  • Those who mourn
  • Those who thirst and hunger for righteousness
  • Those who are merciful
  • Those who are pure in heart
  • Those who are peacemakers
  • Those who are persecuted because of righteousness

With each of those, mentioned above, those receiving blessings are not the rich; the corporate CEO, the celebrity, or Christian who goes to church, reads the Bible, and tithes ten percent or the mega-church preacher—though they may feel blessed. True blessing is upon the meek, the poor in spirit, the merciful, the pure in heart, the peacemakers, and those who are persecuted for righteousness sake.

The promised blessing that follow these individuals are:

  • The poor in spirit will receive the kingdom of heaven
  • Those who mourn will be comforted
  • The meek who will inherit the earth
  • Those who hunger and thirst for righteousness will be filled
  • Those who show mercy will receive mercy
  • The pure in heart will see God
  • The peacemakers will be called son’s of God
  • To the persecuted belongs the kingdom of heaven

When God’s people mirror these qualities they are blessed—blessed with the privilege of partaking in God’s kingdom, His righteousness, His mercy, and being known by Him as His child.

CAN BLESSING BE FOUND IN SUFFERING?
What would it sound like if we said things like; I’m blessed—My car broke down; I’m blessed—I can’t pay rent; I’m blessed—my mother passed away; I’m blessed—my cancer is back. Wouldn't that feel odd, as blessing are associated with good and not unpleasant happenings? Odd because each of these situations bring about pain and sadness; however, I think we neglect that these circumstances are an opportunity to trust in God and to watch His Hand work a blessing out of these difficulties.

The truth about being blessed is we are blessed—always—in good times and bad. This Christmas season, I hope to remember that blessings can also come out of tribulations, heartache, and suffering.  And I can be grateful that I've dredged through them in one piece. 

I am not just blessed by what I have but I am favored by whom I know—God the Father, the Ultimate Blessing Giver, who sanctified us with salvation through the gift of His Son, Jesus Christ.