If you’ve known me for a while, you’d know that when I hear something that I don’t like or that doesn’t sound lovely, I often respond with a verbal “bless it.” For example, “hey Caroline. My car just broke down and my battery is dead.” That would maybe get a “bless it” out of me.
I’ve been wrestling lately with the topic of “blessings” or “being blessed” or what it means when we think “God is blessing” someone.
Honestly, what does it mean to be “blessed” by God?
In our American Christian culture, I think we use the term “blessing” to describe when things are going well for someone. For me, I guess my belief system defines “blessing” as prosperity, health, ease, comfort, what I wanted, when I wanted it, to feel at rest, to feel either in control, without problems, without struggles, without trials.
But none of that is actually biblical is it?
You see, my life feels like I live in a war zone and there are constant bombs going off and grenades of sorts hurled in my direction – all day, everyday. I live in total chaos with 10 boys in a Mexican orphanage. My boys are typically on the edge of meltdown 24/7 and the pressures from the institution itself often feel like a slow suffocation.
When I pray to God – I think I more often than not spend the entire conversation complaining and I actually think I must sound like a whiny baby to God. I want the pain to be over. I want things to be easier. I want my struggles and burdens lifted. I want to rest. I want comfort. I want for the problems to just stop. I want a break. I want out. Often I think I want “boring.” I beg for whatever “normal” seems like, etc.
I find the beatitudes in Matthew 5 to be mind blowing on this topic. You see, Jesus stands up to a crowd of people who are going through some rough times and He says,
“Blessed are the poor in spirit
Blessed are those who mourn
Blessed are the meek
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness
…. For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
REJOICE and BE GLAD, because great is your reward in heaven.”
Okay so if you are anything like me – when you read that – thoughts like, “excuse me?!” or “what the junk does that mean?” or “come again.” Float through your pretty little head. If all of that is what constitutes the biblical word “blessed,” maybe we should think twice before saying, “oh hey – God bless you,” to whomever??
For a long time, I’ve gone to God in prayer wanting some really good explanations for the pain and suffering that my boys have experienced and continue to experience in their young lives. I want justice. I want action. And I want it so fast – I want justice and action to have happened yesterday. I want to see my God just show up and like a super hero in some action movie – blow everyone out of the water and save the day and take every single tear from my childrens’ eyes (and mine too b/c I’m often more of a hysterical mess than they seem to be).
But what I’m realizing or finally acknowledging/accepting/owning and finally willing to stand on – is the truth that God is our CONSTANT in the ever changing. God is our refuge and our strength in times of battle and weakness. He is our ever-present help in trouble (Ps 46). God is our light in the darkness. God wants to be my shelter and the refuge that I turn to in the midst of the chaos (Ps 91).
God never said that He’d take away the hard stuff (John 16:33). He just wants to meet me there in the midst of the crazy. God longs to be my break and my fortress in the battle. He wants to be my shield for the fight. He never said He’d make the fight stop or make it go away.
And to top it off – God says that we are MORE THAN CONQUERORS in this fight (Ro 8:37) Like I can see God on the sidelines of a race just trying to yell and holding a series of neon signs that read,
“Race actually has no end until you die.” (wow comforting! right?)
few miles later…
“So you should quit being stubborn and rest in ME”
miles and years later…
“I ALREADY WON!! You are more than a conqueror. You have won. START BELIEVING IT AND ACTING LIKE IT!”
At the end of all of this – I would really like to hear something like, “You have run the race. You didn’t give up. You kept the faith. You kept your eye on the prize. Well done my good and faithful servant.” And then in the background I feel like I’d hear something like billions of angels singing, “bless the Lord O my Soul! Worship His holy name!” (It’s my version of heaven so I get to pick the song)
So back to the beatitudes… Matthew 5. It times of total prosperity, ease, comfort, happiness – I think it’s way too easy to just straight up forget God – His existence, involvement, provision, deity, holiness. It’s in those times of just struggle that we more often than not finally turn to Him, long for Him, realize our need for Him. It is in the midst of holy battles that we find our rest, our hope, our comfort, communion, and purpose in the Lord and in this life.
Immaturity lies to us saying that everything would be so much better if we could just coast through life and have someone wake us up when it’s all over and when I’m wiser and older and don’t have to learn things the hard way.
Luke 11 says that if we ask for him, he will come and give us the best gift of all – He will give us himself – his Holy Spirit.
Ultimately – that’s what I want to long for… more of Him. Don’t you?