Where do I begin? Okay, let’s just jump right in! Folks in the church world tend to use a lot of “catch phrases,” words or combinations of words that though they sound good often cause confusion, and may not always be the complete truth. Whenever I hear these phrases they absolutely cause me to cringe, much like I would if someone were to run their fingernails across a blackboard. You know exactly what I mean, right? One such phrase is any variation of, “I’m blessed”. While I do realize my reaction to this phrase is marred somewhat by my background, I can’t help but wonder if there are others who perhaps respond similarly?
What do I mean, you ask? Let’s say someone is sharing a wonderful experience and they end by saying, “I’m so blessed.” If I have not had a similar experience, what goes through my mind is, “Does this mean I am not blessed?” If someone has just come back from a fabulous vacation gushing about how blessed they are, and mine either pales in comparison, or is non-existent, am I not blessed? If someone is “blessed” with adorable chubby cheeked grandchildren and I either have none or mine are sickly, do I lack blessing? I truly have no real answer here, but doesn’t it make you wonder?
According to Webster’s 1828 dictionary blessed means, “made happy or prosperous in worldly affairs; extolled; pronounced happy; enjoying spiritual happiness and the favor of God; enjoying heaving felicity.” So when people declare themselves blessed one could assume they are simply expressing their happiness or declaring God’s favor in their lives. But, I think we are missing something here. According to scripture, there is another side to being blessed, one a bit darker, and one we don’t tend to celebrate much. James 1:12 says, “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” (ESV) Not many folks with their feet to the fire go around proclaiming how blessed they are, myself included. I will be the first to raise my hand and admit that when life goes haywire, I start looking around wondering what on earth have I done to cause the turmoil. But when we do that, we actually miss out on the fullness of blessing. Blessing isn’t just “rainbows, bunnies, and lollipops.” Think about this for a second; money can buy anyone a fabulous vacation, but the ability to remain steadfast under trial, now that takes true character! I don’t know about you, but I’ll take the blessing of a steadfast character that is able to endure under trial over a tropical vacation to an exotic locale any day!
Matthew 5:11-12 says, “Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.” (The Message) No doubt my perspective on this subject is going to ruffle some feathers. It may cause people who disagree to put me down and discredit me, but according to Matthew, that means that I have brought light to darkness, exposed some truth, created discomfort and that all heaven applauds when that happens. Heaven rejoicing? I’ll take it! That right there is some powerful stuff!
Please don’t misunderstand me; life should be celebrated, joy should be shared, we should rejoice with one another, but there has to be a balance. We can’t just live the happy moments “out loud” we have to share the struggles too otherwise we create an unrealistic, unattainable lifestyle that stifles kingdom growth. People need to see how we navigate being poor, sick, hurt, discouraged, et cetera for when we overcome, then we are truly blessed!
Becky J Miller