I think we misunderstand blessings.
We use the word all the time. We say “Bless you,” to someone when they sneeze. We ask for our parents’ blessing towards our marriages. Something nice goes on in our lives and we let everyone know we are #blessed.
It’s wonderful when we feel like we are under God’s favour when we get to enjoy a giant breakfast with loved ones. But when we post a picture to Instragram, are we trying to share God’s blessing with others, or just bragging about how awesome our life is? We can’t live like the rest of the world (posting the absolute best parts of our day while ignoring the trials and challenges faced throughout the day), slap a sanctified hashtag on it, and call ourselves a holy people. That is not a sign of living under God’s rule.
But there’s a bigger problem going on than our #blessed competitions: we only ever speak of God’s blessings when we are happy.
God wants what is best and good for us. I firmly believe that to be true. The problem comes when we retranslate that as “God wants us to be happy.” I’m sure our happiness is important to God, but more than that, He wants us to be holy. He wants us to be in right relationship with Him, and living out His purposes in our lives.
God blesses us in a multitude of ways, but the biggest blessing He can give a person is His presence.
If this is true, then things that make us happy are really only blessings if they bring us closer to God. Wealth can be a blessing, if it allows us to imitate our Heavenly Father in our generosity and ability to show kindness to others. Children can be a blessing if they allow us to draw nearer to God and build a legacy faithfulness. Food can be a blessing if it brings us to a place of awe and wonder before our Creator and Sustainer.
But I’ve found, in my life at least, that wealth draws me away from God. It allows me to afford more worldly distractions and lets me believe I can provide for myself. My children can take up so much of my mental and physical energy that I forget to connect with God. My desire for “good” food and time at coffee shops causes me to become selfish with my money, forgetting that there are others who don’t have even the basics of food and water.
Instead, I tend to draw nearest to God during adversity. When my anxiety threatens to overwhelm me with shame and guilt, I am forced on my knees before the Lord. When I have no idea how I’m going to afford the rising costs of groceries and gas, I have to trust that God will provide for my family. When I feel most hurt, I am drawn to the one who can (and ultimately will) heal all of my pain.
When was the last time you saw someone showing off their empty bank account with the tag #blessed? Or posted their rejection letter with a giant :-D? If these are the moments that force us to draw nearer to God, perhaps we should.
This week, before you play the “who’s most #blessed” game, take a minute to ask yourself why you’re sharing that moment with the world. We are blessed to be a blessing. When God does share lovely things into your life, He’s expecting you to pass them along to others.
And when you are challenged beyond your breaking point, instead of blaming Satan for your misfortune, realize the blessing that God has given you. How can you lean into God during your misfortunes and allow them to become blessings? Who knows, maybe this little thing can change your entire outlook. It has for me.