This theme of blessing continues to come back to me in conversations, articles, and especially social media. There are many different perspectives of what God's blessings look like. But when I read my Bible, I get a distinctly different idea of blessing from what we call "blessing" here in America. Oftentimes we associate blessing with what, or who, we HAVE in our lives. Does this mean, then, that those without those things or people are NOT blessed?
Or even worse—cursed?
Blessed=sitting on couch with my loving kids :: Not Blessed=no couch and/or no kids/barren
Blessed=for this food :: Not Blessed=no food and/or starving
Blessed=prayer for healing was answered by healing :: Not Blessed=prayer for healing wasn't answered by healing
Blessed=my team won :: Not Blessed=their team lost
My concern is that often my concept of blessing has nothing to do with God's goodness or His leading, but more to do with my concept of happiness. The problem is my happiness is as fickle as my moods, experiences, feelings, and interactions with others. Like, right now, I am blessed because I'm playing with my son and daughter like horses and cats in a puffy meadow (you'd have to be here). We're happy, so we're blessed.
Do you see the subconscious correlation? But what happens later when someone is upset, or gets hurt, or says something they shouldn't and it brings punishment—like my son just did? Where did the blessing go? DID it go anywhere?
What do we do when a blessing doesn't look like a blessing to us?
The Bible tells us God's people regularly struggled with what God's provision and blessing looked like. This morning as I read through Jeremiah 28-29 I saw two words from the Lord: one true, one false. One looking like judgment, one looking like blessing. One meaning subjugation to the Babylonians, one meaning freedom from that oppression. One meant life and prosperity for Israel AND the Babylonians while the other meant death by the sword, famine, and pestilence.
One meant obedience to the Lord even though it didn't look like a blessing, and one meant rebellion against the Lord even though it looked like a blessing and shaking off the shackles of a curse. Both were prophesies, but one was true and the other was false. The truth did NOT look like a blessing we'd be okay with, and even Jeremiah said, "Amen!" to what was false (in a "would that it were true!" sense). "But of course," he cautioned, "if it doesn't happen that way it's not of the Lord." And in Ch. 29 he said that Shemaiah made the people "trust in a lie."
We are to learn that what is true is ALWAYS of God and what is false NEVER is. What we WANT will never be a fool-proof indicator of the truth.
What is remarkable to me is the penalty for inciting rebellion against the truth of the Lord. God told Hananiah he would die, and Shemaiah met with the ending of his family line. All because they spoke what was untrue, and SAID it was from the Lord. But why is it remarkable? Shouldn't it rather be an expectation? That we cannot speak untruth in the name of God and hope to escape unscathed?
Though the rebuke that comes from this would certainly "feel" like a curse, maybe it's a curse of blessing. A curse that turns people's hearts back to the Lord.
Maybe plans to prosper, that give us a hope and a future, don't involve as much of our feelings as we'd like. God is concerned with truth, so when Jesus calls Himself "the way, the truth, and the life," He isn't equivocating about some truth on a sliding scale, a relativistic-definition for truth that is REALLY the definition of personal opinion.
I know that may not be helpful to you, or even particularly encouraging, but I pray it's faithful to the truth.
And if it is, then maybe it's sufficient enough for a starting point for you and me.