Blessed?

Todd

blessed-journalBut I get turned around
I mistake some happiness for blessing
But I’m blessed as the poor
Still I judge success by how I’m dressing”

Faith My Eyes, Caedmon’s Call

I’m not sure I understand how I have been blessed.

Don’t get me wrong, I know I am blessed, but I’m not sure which good things in my life actually count as blessings.

Is it a blessing that I have a nice home? A nice TV and Xbox 360 to play on that TV? A car that runs? My health? A wife who loves me?  The fact that I was born to loving parents in the most prosperous nation in the world (at the time) and have had countless opportunities afforded to me?

While those are all good things, I’m afraid to claim them as blessings. Not because I’m not grateful or disappointed in what I’ve been given, but because of what my claiming those as blessing implies.

If those things are indeed blessings, what does it say about those people who don’t have those things? Are they not blessed? Are they just blessed in different ways?

Help me understand what it means to be blessed.
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5 Comments

  1. December 15, 2008 at 10:29 am — Reply

    As I’ve heard it explained, everything is a blessing to the believer, nothing is a blessing to the unbeliever. Which in a way seems kind of tautological, but stuff like Psalm 73 addresses the earthly good things of nonbelievers, and stuff like Romans 8 (“All things work together for good…” etc.) addresses the bad things for believers. So it’s a theologically defensible position.

    It’s not an entirely satisfactory answer. Especially when you’re considering how others may read the implications. You don’t want to have to go around disclaiming things: “God has blessed me with health… though Psalm 73 says ‘the wicked’ may also be healthy, and Romans 8 says that even if I wasn’t healthy, I’d still be blessed…” So… yeah.

    I can be more vague upon request.

  2. Brad
    December 15, 2008 at 10:26 pm — Reply

    Dude, Faith My Eyes is an amazing song. So is that whole album really, and well, all of Caedmon’s music, but I really love the Derek Webb songs like that one. As for blessing, Paul seems to talk about spiritual blessings a lot more than physical ones. This especially comes out in the prison epistles. Of course we ought not discount physical blessings, whatever the specifics of those are from individual to individual, but give thanks to the blesser in all things.

  3. December 16, 2008 at 7:18 am — Reply

    Does gratitude mean arrogance? Was Mary blessed because she had a son (what about all the women who couldn’t have children?) or because she was the Lord’s servant? I would think she would say both. Why is this days bread only a blessing if its not too much and its not too tasty and everyone else gets to eat too? All good things from God. Even X-boxes. How we use them and what they become in our lives are another matter.

  4. December 17, 2008 at 7:55 am — Reply

    This is a great question, Todd. Seriously. I don’t have any answers, except to say that the three comments before this one have added great thoughts to the discussion.

  5. December 17, 2008 at 7:58 pm — Reply

    Let me see…

    I am going to take the idea of blessing in an entirely new direction.

    Blessing is a state of perspective not a state of things.

    Two Scriptures I want to point out are:

    “Every good and perfect gift is from above…”
    -James 1:17

    and

    “[God] causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.”
    -Matt. 5:45

    In the context of these two passages, Good comes from above and God gives it to all people.

    I think it is easy to misunderstand or misinterpret what the “good” is that comes from above.

    I think a lot of people think T.V.’s and Xboxes are a part of that “good from above”.

    I disagree.

    They don’t come from above, they come from Best Buy.

    What I glean from the Scriptures is that the “good” coming from above is a state of heart and mind that understands God is good in His very nature all the time, without fail, to all people despite their social status, spiritual fastness, or all-around deservedness.

    The problems arise when blessing and stuff are equated.

    In the West, generally speaking, I think this is a common misunderstanding. It makes sense we often misunderstand “blessing” to mean “stuff” because in our culture we equate lots of things with “stuff”:

    – affection
    – success
    – self-worth
    – happiness

    As I was saying before, I am confident Blessing, as presented in the scriptures, relates to a state of heart (perspective and understanding) not of things. No matter what things I have or what stuff I don’t, God is good and he is good to all people always.

    My conclusion is this: Blessing relates primarily, if not entirely, to perspective.
    People who are blessed are people with what I’ll call “God-perspective”.

    Blessed people are people who are aware of God in their lives.
    “God-perspective” is not to mean people who have God’s perspective. Rather, I’m speaking about people whose relationship to life is directly and meaningfully influenced by their awareness of God in their midst.

    People are considered, in my opinion, blessed when they have received God-perspective. This perspective is what keeps people grounded when everything is going great, and keeps people stabilized when everything is awry.

    God-perspective sees all sparkling things around them as temporary and fading.

    God-perspective understands all suffering as temporary and fading.

    God-perspective understands nothing is beneath me and nothing is too impossible to handle.

    God-perspective knows nothing bigger or worthy of more concern than God.

    God-perspective is a blessing that allows the blessed to say,

    “Though I am…
    poor,
    hungry,
    cold,
    tired,
    blind,
    deaf,
    dying of cancer,
    have kidney stones,
    am paralyzed,
    have LD,
    Alzheimer’s,
    am unemployed (going on 5 weeks),
    single (going on 5 years),
    lonely,
    afraid,
    avoided,
    forgetful,
    abused,
    bulimic,
    hated by my boss, family, co-workers, or landlord,
    ashamed,
    left-out,
    in prison,
    made-fun-of,
    frustrated,
    married,
    judged,
    ignored,
    addicted,
    impotent,
    bi-curious,
    doubtful,
    careless,
    forgetful…

    …God is good, God is with me, and by God I will make it through this!”

    God-perspective is blessing. To be blessed is to have God-perspective. It is with God-perspective people are established. It is without God-perspective that people fall.

    God-perspective gives joy to the man in poverty though he has so little.
    The rich man mourns and wails in the midst of all he has because he lacks God-perspective.

    God-perspective makes people experts at navigating life for the things of life are put in proper perspective.

    We no longer worry or concern ourselves as much about…
    money,
    possessions,
    power,
    ability,
    authority,
    success,
    safety,
    the future,
    the past,
    popular opinion,
    image,
    clothes,
    food,
    trends,
    death…

    …These things become of less and less consequence over time to the Blessed because theirs is perspective, theirs is the understanding that there is but ONE constant, and that is God with us.

    “If God is with us, who can be against us?”

    The one to count as blessed is the one who has proper perspective on life. All things in life are temporary, including life itself. Proper perspective causes the person to value what is of true value and lasting, like the quality and depth of his or her relationships, or how generously she lived her life, or the times he stood up for someone in trouble or need.

    The blessed person indeed is the one who understands, rightly, that more money can always be made and more stuff can always be got, but opportunities to stand in the gap for someone in need will not always be available.

    God-perspective is what causes people in the midst of great suffering and hardship to, for no other explainable reason, express hope, confidence, and joy.

    God-perspective is what causes people to say, for no other explainable reason, “Whatever I have, be it a lot or a little, is plenty, and of what I have, be it a lot or a little, I will give.”

    God-perspective is the blessing of satisfaction and fulfillment despite circumstances.

    God-perspective is generosity despite one’s own plenty or insufficiency.

    God-perspective is hope and assurance always and especially in very hopeless, uncertain situations.

    When we pray and ask God to bless us, we are asking for God-perspective. It’s not something I always have but it is something I have experienced and retained for long periods of time. But this is why we pray and seek. We can have Blessing (God-perspective) all the time and we should have it all the time!

    It starts with this proper understanding of Blessing and it continues to root and grow within us as we pray and foster it.

    cb

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