I have a friend who has a large decal on her back car window that shouts “BLESSED.” Somedays, more days than I care to admit, I want to throw a rock at that sweet sentiment. To me it’s claim, given the sometimes harsh reality of life, feels disingenuous at best.
My cynicism for the innocent word was born out of the era of the prosperity gospel. I’m dating myself, but do you remember Jim and Tammy Faye Baker, the Kardashians of the gospel? Etched in my memory is the iconic SNL skit of Tammy Faye dripping with mascara. In my view, the empty false promise of “blessing”, of health and wealth, lost any resemblance to what God had in mind. And what a shame.
In contrast, Jesus’ teaching from the Sermon on the Mount gives a different perspective.
Matthew 5:3-12 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
No wonder the word is so confusing. In my view in today’s culture,“Blessed” is a loaded and misleading term because it blurs the distinction between who is ultimately responsible. We can use the word with the intent to extend gratitude to God. “Thank you, God. I could not have secured/ achieved/ acquired this for myself, I am indeed blessed.” But… it can also suggest that it was somehow deserved. “Thank you, me. For being the kind of person who has been rewarded for somehow getting it right.”
Thanksgiving week is the perfect time to consider the rich value of this misused, bruised and abused word.
The way I understand it, God doesn’t bless us just so we can say we are a blessed and adorn our car with a decal. True to His nature, there is great purpose in His actions. Yes, God blesses us because he loves us, but there’s more to it. He blesses us SO THAT, we can be a blessing to others. In other words, because we receive we’re given the responsibility to give.
Why We Were Created
Practically speaking, God guides us, so we can guide others. He comforts us, so we can comfort others. The Lord blesses us so we can be a blessing to others. Because He loves us, we become His chosen conduit. The added bonus of blessing is this… when we are obedient to our responsibility, we get blessed in the process! The way God designed it, blessings flow from Him and then through us. Very simply, that is our calling, our purpose, why we were created.
Paul teaches this to the church in Corinth.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
Has a “blessing” ever gotten stuck by collecting dust in your life? Don’t be confused by only thinking about material blessing. Blessings come from unexpected places, just look at the beatitudes. What time, talent or treasure have you kept to yourself? What about the challenges in your life you’d rather forget? God wants to use all of it. When you hold on tight, not only does the kingdom suffer, but YOU MISS OUT TOO.
This past week an acquaintance from more than a decade ago, reached out to me. (I will call her Beth, not her real name) Beth’s message said this…
Message From Beth
“Hi Debbie! I have been going through something very difficult and have found myself drawn to your blog. It has started to help me a bit. I need your advice on something.. God related. If you are up for it, could I email you”
After several back and forth emails, and some prayerful preparation, Beth and I met over the phone. Angry to have joined the club that none of us choose, Beth’s horrific story was unimaginably tragic. Feeling forsaken, desperate, and very alone, Beth contacted me. Amazingly, in our exchange, I experienced what the Lord promises. I was indeed blessed to be a blessing. God had uniquely equipped me for the task, and because of what I had walked through, I had immediate credibility. With effortless spirit-filled ease, my words were the life preserver Beth needed. Please don’t misunderstand. It wasn’t me. Rather, it was God through me. And there is no better place to be, than living out your calling in the center of His will.
As I hung up the phone, tear stained and empty of myself, God gifted me with yet another layer of healing. For the first time, with the eyes of my heart, I could see evidence of His redemptive grace in my unique situation. In God’s economy, my ‘tragedy’ had become the means for the Lord’s blessing. Do you get it?
Genesis 50:20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.
A Picture of Redemption
God takes something dead and breathes life into it; repurposing it for our good and His glory.
This Thanksgiving as you consider your blessed life with perhaps an empty chair at your table, a new health challenge, or a prodigal who is still a far way off, maybe it’s time to expand your understanding of what it means to be blessed and enjoy what is only possible when you live out your “blessing.”
Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
What a thought. What a responsibility.
And what a blessing it is to be His blessing.
For starters, would you join me by praying for Beth and her family.
Have a BLESSED Thanksgiving,