Do you have a favorite time of the day? One of my favorite times is at the end of the day when we put the girls down to sleep. I usually lie down with them for a few minutes and we talk about whatever comes to mind: school, classmates, something they saw on Youtube, etc. Actually, the girls talk and talk and talk, while I slowly lose consciousness. After what seems like hours but is probably just a few minutes, we pray together and then they go to sleep. After that, for some reason, I feel totally awake and energized (parents, you know what I mean right). Though it's fairly routine, I cherish the time because it's one of the few times in the day when we thank the Lord together. However, as we thank God for His "blessings," I sometimes wonder if I'm sending the wrong message about what His blessing is really about.
I think it's pretty common these days to associate God's blessing with physical and material well-being. Within Christian circles, it's not unusual to hear statements like "we're blessed to be healthy" or "the Lord has blessed us with this house or this job." At times, we also refer to the Lord's blessing in terms of good fortune and circumstances. We feel blessed when our team wins (go Lakers!) or we get the promotion or things are good at home. But how about when things aren't so good or we don't feel so "blessed?" We know there are a lot of people, faithful brothers and sisters in Christ, experiencing tremendous hardships these days. Some are suffering from illness or disease. Some are disheartened by how things have panned out in their lives. Some have lost their jobs and are struggling to make ends meet. How do we understand God's blessing in times like these? This is where I see a problem with associating God's blessing with worldly prosperity and comfort. I hear it in my own prayers at the end of the day thanking God for how He's "blessed" me or my family by keeping us safe or healthy or well-fed. Now please don't get me wrong. We are commanded to be thankful for God's provision. His arm is long and gracious. But I wonder if we associate God's blessing with positive outcomes way too much. I wonder, will our children think they're blessed by God only if they're safe, healthy, and have a nice car or house? And if they don't, will they question why God's blessing is not on them?
In Genesis 12, the Lord forms a covenant with Abraham to bless him and to be His God if he will trust and obey Him. Part of this incredible blessing is to give Abraham worldly prosperity and success as he follows Him. This prosperity was to be a sign to other nations that the Lord Almighty was with Abraham and his people. Genesis 12:3 says "I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” This blessing of prosperity was evident in God's people during the Old Testament. But in the New Testament, God's blessing takes a different form. The word for blessing stems from the Greek word "makários" which means to receive God's favor. Now this can mean material things as well as positive outcomes, all of which we should be thankful for, but at its core, it means "to be made holy." More than health, wealth, and comfort, God's favor rests on His children through the indwelling of Christ in their lives. This is the ultimate blessing of God! The fact that Jesus has forgiven us, redeemed us, and we are His - made righteous by His blood - and destined for eternal life in His kingdom is how we are blessed. We see this in the beatitudes in Matthew 5 where Jesus basically says blessed are those who know trial and hardship, because they draw near to God.
In some ways then we may need to reframe how we understand God's blessing in our lives. As we grow in our faith, we should become more and more consumed by Jesus. Beloved, if you have Christ, then you are truly blessed! Do not doubt that God's favor rests upon you in spite of the earthly circumstances. Ephesians 1:3 says "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ." At the end of the day, hold fast to this promise and thank God for how blessed we are.