I often hear statements like, "I am so blessed to have three healthy children!" or "I got the promotion I was hoping for...I feel so blessed!" or "We just bought our dream home. We are incredibly blessed!” or “We are blessed to live in a country of so much comfort, freedom and opportunity, aren't we?”
But what happens when you don't feel so "blessed" in your current circumstances? For example, one of my children hasvarious disorderswhich have often left us devastated, broken and uncertain about the future. Are we no longer considered blessed?
My husband lost half his salary which forced us to lose our home and everything we worked for. Are we no longer considered blessed?
I have struggled with several health issues for most of my life. Have I taken the short stick and missed the blessings that so many others seem to have received?
Why do we tend to associate blessings with positive circumstances, wealth, comfort, and the absence of problems? I think that's because so many of us have a very brief and superficial idea of what it means to be blessed.
The question then arises: whatit doesmeans to beblessed?
The meaning of blessing
In the English language, there are different definitions of blessed, depending on what it isThe Oxford Advanced Dictionary:
- “Hallowed; consecrated"
- "Endowed with Divine Favor and Protection"
- "To bring joy or relief as a welcome contrast to what one has experienced before"
The Greek definition of the word "blessed" comes fromMacaroniThis describes a believer as in aenviableto get a positionGod's Provisions (Favour)– as an extension of his grace. This occurs when the births of faith are received from the Lord (HELP word studies).
I admit that these definitions surprised me a bit. Growing up in Western culture, I heard the phrase "I am blessed" more often in reference to happiness, a desired outcome, or comfort. Actually, that's how I've always used it.
It is certainly true that the earthly gifts we receive on earth, such as comfort, desired outcomes, success, and the friendships we enjoy, are undeserved blessings from the Lord. These undeserved blessings that God bestows upon all men through His grace should be received with thanksgiving and praise, that we may find joy in glorifying God through them. In our flesh, however, we are often inclined to entitlement, pride, and the pursuit of happiness in worldly circumstances.
So I find it instructive that even in the English dictionary, the primary definition of blessing is not wealth or comfort, but rather "being sanctified." Since we are essentially sanctified by salvation in Jesus Christ, the truest way to be blessed is by recognizing our wretched condition, being brought to repentance, sanctified to holiness, and someday receiving the crown of righteousness . In comparison, all other earthly blessings must fade!
Yes, unbelievers are also blessed, but not in the same way. They are blessed by the common grace of God that extends to all people. However, since that grace has an expiration date on Judgment Day, the blessed circumstances of their lives are more short-term gifts of God's grace than the everlasting, life-giving blessings bestowed on believers. Unfortunately, the comfort of these temporary blessings often blinds many to their true state of poverty and their need for a Savior.
We see this clearly in Christ's powerful words of warning to the church of Laodicea in Revelation.
I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were cold or hot! Then, since you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I will vomit you out of my mouth. Because you say: I am rich and prosperous and I do not need anything, not knowing that you are a misery, a misery, poor, blind and naked. I advise you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich, and white clothes to clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed, and eye ointment to anoint your eyes, that you may see . Those I love I blame and chastise, so be diligent and repent. (Revelation 3:15-19)
Like Laodicea, many cultures today, including our own, have a watered down and distorted idea of being blessed. Unfortunately, many believers (including myself sometimes) who grew up in these rich cultures also fell victim to this misperception. Many saw the blessing as happy, comfortable, and happy.
This, of course, poses a problem for a believer when he suddenly finds himself in circumstances that fall short of the blessed life he hoped for. They struggle to understand why, when they choose to obey and follow Christ, they see unbelievers all around them gaining promotions, succeeding in their endeavors (even at the expense of others), buying big houses, and seemingly succeeding are. in everything they do.
The Biblical Reality of Blessings
Because of this, we must anchor ourselves in what is true, not in what we can see and understand. For while it can be tempting to look at the surface of people's lives and understand why they seem to be thriving, we need to remember that these very blessings blind them to their need for a Savior, leaving them unfulfilled and empty leave behind. 🇧🇷
Before we allow ourselves to be proud, however, we must remember that each of us was in the same state of blindness, and that without the merciful and gracious work of Jesus Christ, we would still be just as blind and needy. May this truth lead us to share the life-giving gospel with all who are lost and blinded by their own false sense of comfort and security!
So what does this mean for us as believers? Here are some questions we should ask ourselves.
- What am I looking for more than anything else?
- Am I following Christ and expecting earthly gifts of comfort and prosperity? Or am I looking for Christ because He is the ultimate blessing and worth every sacrifice?
- Do my comforts leave me lukewarm instead of living in constant repentance and zeal for the gospel of Jesus?
These are crucial questions because if we believe that following Christ will guarantee us earthly blessings (the prosperity gospel), we must open the Bible and read it. It won't take long to realize that Christ promised just the opposite.
In fact, we are promised that this life will be full of suffering, deprivation, and death for us and our earthly desires. Unless we realign our thinking to see our circumstances through the eyes of the incredible blessings and assurances we have in Christ, we will quickly question God's goodness and love when earthly "blessings" fall upon all but ourselves seem to be.
Unlike much of the world, Western Christians seem so used to comfort and wealth that we have an incredibly low tolerance for pain and discomfort. That means we must work hard to keep our eyes constantly on the truth of who we are, what we deserve, and the true blessings we have in Christ. Christ can transform our perspectives through the power of His Word and the Holy Spirit. It will also prepare and equip us for the trials, disappointments, and overwhelming circumstances we are sure to encounter as we walk the separate path to the gospel.
So let's remember how blessed we are by the truth of God's Word.
1. We are blessed with spiritual blessings that far surpass any earthly blessing.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in Christ has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places... (Ephesians 1:3)
No matter what we receive or do not receive in physical form, we receive all blessings through the full work of Christ: His righteousness, resources, privilege, position, and power. But often He works these spiritual blessings in our lives through circumstances that most people would not consider blessings. Some of the greatest spiritual blessings in my life have come from undesirable earthly circumstances.
2. We are blessed because as the chosen and adopted sons and daughters of the King, we shall receive the riches, blessings, and character of Christ.
...as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace with which he has blessed us in the beloved. (Ephesians 1:4-6)
Can there be a greater blessing than this? If you are in Christ, you werechosen onebefore the foundation of the world, to be adopted as the beloved son or daughter of the king through Jesus Christ. Elect and beloved, we are blessed beyond measure, being sanctified by His free grace. There is no greater blessing than this!
3. We are blessed because we have been redeemed and forgiven by receiving the riches of His grace as He revealed to us the mystery of His will, the gospel.
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our sins, according to the riches of his grace which he showered upon us, showing us with all wisdom and discernment the mystery of his will, according to his purpose which he had in Christ as a plan erected for us, the fullness of time, to gather in him all things of heaven and earth. (Ephesians 1:7-10)
The greatest blessing God can give us is to help us recognize our need for Christ and then develop in us a growing spiritual understanding of the gospel. Out of love, He sometimes does this through circumstances that take away the desired earthly blessings we tend to seek and replace them with the greater blessing of knowing Him better.
4. We are blessed because we have a secure inheritance and are sealed with the promised Holy Spirit until we possess it.
In him we received an inheritance preordained according to the purpose of him who does all things according to the counsel of his will, that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. In him also, when you heard and believed in the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, you were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the pledge of our inheritance until we possess it, to the praise of his glory. . (Ephesians 1:11-14)
Buying your dream home, restoring your health, and experiencing loss and trials in this life begin to fade as we cling to the eternal inheritance guaranteed to us as God's children. Our citizenship will be the new Jerusalem, an unshakable, sure, and everlasting kingdom (Revelation 3:12, 21).
Let's take a look at the incredible inheritance that comes to us each time we begin to regret what we've lost, when we wish things were right, and when we groan in these earthly bodies. If this continues to be our focus, we will never have reason to despair. The suffering we experience on earth will make our eternal inheritance even more beautiful!
On the other hand, since we have so many more blessings than we realize, we can become complacent. When you see this in yourself, repentantly go to the Lord and ask Him to touch your heart with more zeal for Him than comfort. Time is of the essence and we don't want to be found asleep! Pray boldly that Christ will do everything to kindle your heart for him. For those who are feeling weary from a moment of loss and pain, remember that our greatest blessing through the gospel is the holiness and character that Christ works in us. Then press!
The testimony of blessing
I see now that the gift of a special needs child and the loss of many of my earthly comforts (although I am still much more comfortable than most people in the world) were some of the greatest blessings of God in my life. He used them to shower spiritual blessings far more precious than I could have sought or desired.
Yes, brother or sister, we are blessed. In Christ we are loved, chosen, redeemed, forgiven, delivered, sanctified and promised an everlasting inheritance with all the riches, glory and character of our Savior. To the glory of God, we are blessed. May we all proclaim how blessed we are to see Christ working more deeply in us, even in circumstances that seem far from a blessing.
For it is better to be hopelessly poor and feeble in the eyes of the world and eternally blessed in the glory of Christ than to be exceedingly blessed by earthly standards and to stand naked and poor at the Judgment Seat of Christ.
How have you been blessed in Christ? Share how you have seen God work His spiritual blessings in the face of difficulties and trials.
Sarah Walton is co-author ofTogether Through Storms: Biblical Encouragement for Your Marriage When Life Hurts(The Good Book Company, 2020). She is also co-author of the award-winning bookhope when it hurtsand blogsSetApart.net🇧🇷 She lives in Chicago, Illinois with her husband Jeff and their four children. For more information about Sarah and Jeff's story, visit theirBuchtrailer🇧🇷 In his free time he dreams of what he would do if he really had free time.