We see the #blessed hashtag everywhere. The status updates read something like this:
New car today! #blessed
Got my promotion at work! #blessed
Ran a marathon! #blessings
But when you're driving a beat-up jalopy, are struggling with bills, and are dealing with chronic illness and you see these posts, some strange thoughts can go through your mind.
Does this mean I am not #blessed?
And if not, why is God blessing them but not me?
Even more troubling, it can make us wonder if it's a sign that God is somehow disappointed with us. Or it can make us think that perhaps God is being unfair. #iwantaswimmingpool #blessmetoogod
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For some believers, this leads them to quietly withdraw, and much like a person who is drowning, they will sink below the surface without anybody noticing.
Have you ever looked at the perfectly curated images of your fellow believers and made a mental note that that will never be you?
I have. And if you're like me, you've come to several conclusions.
We're not the #blessed.
We're not the rock stars of the faith.
We're not even one of their backup singers wearing leather pants with teased out hair.
We're standing at the back of the room at the door wondering whether this whole thing even really is for us. Should we try harder or just check out?
Should we go somewhere else or just stay home?
Or could it be that we don't know what it means to be #blessed?
Could it be that we only see God's blessings as an inground swimming pool or the latest Lexus?
Could it be we've forgotten Jesus's version of what it means to be blessed?
He says in the Sermon on the Mount: (you knew this was coming)
'Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.' Are you poor in spirit? Do you desperately need Jesus? If so, you are blessed.
'Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.' I know that's you. God sees the hurt in your spirit, and He says you will be comforted and that you are blessed.
'Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.' Another translation says, 'Blessed are the gentle', and another one translates it as being humble. Basically, those who are kind to others and who are not puffed up with pride.
'Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.' When righteousness is your priority, the Bible says you are blessed.
'Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.' Come on now, this is getting good. This is where the waterworks starts.
'Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.' You have God's favor, and He sees Jesus's righteousness when you've trusted in Him for your salvation.
'Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.' We don't need to avenge ourselves, and God loves a peacemaker.
'Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.' Here is where the rubber meets the road. When you are unfriended, insulted, criticized, bullied, harassed, left out, and disowned for His sake, the Bible says you are blessed.
'Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.' Some of us are very blessed indeed.
"Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you." Your position is great if others exclude you and when your way is difficult because of your faith. In fact, the Bible says to beware when everybody speaks well of you.
"Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets." Luke 6:26
God's ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. Many of His ways go completely contrary to our own ways. In the Bible it also says that, "But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first." Matthew 19:30
This is not to say that a swimming pool is not a blessing from God. It is. Every perfect and good gift is from God. I love to go swimming, and I desperately want a swimming pool (can you tell?), but still, I am more blessed than I know.
And so are you.
The things that hurt us, the things we endure for our faith, they are also are our blessings. And if it were common knowledge or common sense, God would not have to tell us these things.
But He does tell us, because He loves us and wants us to know how things work in His economy. What we see and how we evaluate a situation isn't always accurate. We can assume our God doesn't love us as much as He loves someone else, when in fact that isn't true at all.
We're headed for another place and we're storing up treasure there. It may be like working a difficult job to put yourself through school and thinking your life is miserable when in reality at the end there is a diploma and (this is theoretical, work with me here) a great job with much better pay at the end of the line.
The hard work, no sleep, and backbreaking labor are just what is happening at a certain part of the story. But wait till the end, because this gets real good.
This isn't all there is. There is so much more to the story.
In the meantime, just know that Jesus loves you and that you are the #blessed.
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