God has been teaching me a lot lately, but one thing that I keep coming back to is the idea of a blessing and what that really looks like. I feel like our culture has turned the idea of being “blessed” into something that happens when things go our way.
For example, if I’m about to pitch in a game—or, better yet, I just threw a really great statistical game—it’d be perfectly fine for me to throw up a social media post about being #blessed and thankful for an opportunity. But what about when I lose? What about when I don’t make it out of the first inning? What about when an injury comes along? Am I still blessed then?
The more I think about it, the more I realize this: trials lead us to blessings, and we should embrace the trials as blessings.
The one piece of Scripture where “blessed” really makes a stand is during the Sermon on the Mount that Jesus gives in Matthew 5. Let’s take a look at who God “blesses” in this passage…
God blesses those who: (Matt. 5: 3-10)
- are poor and realize their need for Him.
- are humble
- hunger and thirst for justice
- are merciful
- have pure hearts
- work for peace
- are persecuted for doing right
Now, I don’t know about you, but none of those qualities come to mind when success is on my horizon. After I accomplish something, I’m typically struggling to fight pride and arrogance. I feel like I deserve the victories and the trophies of life. And that may be the problem; the blessings are merely answers to my own desires.
The focus isn’t on developing a closer relationship with Christ, but rather a closer relationship with my wants.
But that’s not what brings about a humble spirit, or a thirst for justice, or any other traits mentioned on the Mount. No, I just get more prideful and deserving when I get my own way. True blessings come when the trial is too great for personal effort to overcome; when I can’t help but look for Him because He’s all that’s left. My strength has faded. I’ve tried everything except running to Jesus, and now He’s my last resort.
That’s when I’m blessed. That’s when I can finally see all that God has done, is doing, and will do for me. That’s when a paradigm shift happens—a blessing in disguise, if you will.
The greatest tests of life bring about the greatest blessings; that’s easy to say, but practically impossible to recognize when it’s actually happening. When I look back at my life, the toughest years always brought about the greatest growth. Those trials gave me a much greater understanding of the Word and made my faith deeper and more real.
God wants us to live richly in his blessings, but not the comforts of our own worldly desires. He wants us to live richly in the blessings of His promises, His love, His care, and His hope. Living a blessed life is living a life of hope impartial to any and all circumstances.
If you haven’t read the story of Job, I highly recommend you give it a peek. It’s the story of a man who has it all. He has a beautiful wife and many kids, much livestock and servants to tend to them, land and other resources. He’s highly respected, extremely wealthy, and considered a man of the utmost integrity. And in one day he loses all of it except his wife and his own life.
His oxen and donkeys are stolen and the farmhands killed in a raid. His sheep and servants are burned up in a fire. Chaldean raiders steal all his camels. On top of that, all of his sons and daughters are killed when a mighty wind crumbles the house they are feasting in. But Job doesn’t even curse God after this—he keeps his faith.
Then, disease strikes Job and his body is riddled with terrible boils and sores. And these boils and sores don’t go away, they fester and bleed [from itching]. And even when his wife tells him to “curse God and die!” he remains faithful.
It isn’t until weeks later that Job begins to question his faith. Why would God allow me to go through this suffering? What have I done to deserve this? I’ve been totally faithful in all my actions, thoughts, and words—yet you give me this? How could God be just and faithful in all things when he can’t even be faithful to my happiness?
We’ve all been to this place before; we’ve all thought that we don’t deserve the trials of life. We’ve been faithful in the small things, why can’t the big things happen? Why can’t even the little things go right? I did this for Jesus, so why is He letting these bad things happen to me?
But that’s where I’m challenged today.
I haven’t been faithful in all the small things. I haven’t been completely faithful in my thoughts, actions, and words. I just want to think that I have, so that I can feel better about myself and make it seem like I deserve better circumstances. But I don’t deserve anything—except the same suffering as Job (and even more). Why? Because I sin; and the wages of sin is death.
I deserve hell, and every bit of it.
And I think that’s what being blessed is truly about. It’s moving from a place of entitlement into a place of gratefulness.
It’s only through the grace of God that I live in freedom. My happiness shouldn’t run from my circumstances in life, but from God—completely devoted to and entirely reliant on faith; that’s a fulfilling, #blessed life.
“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast in the midst of trials.” —James 1:12
It’s the times of greatest struggle and persecution that display the blessedness of our faith. Those times when there is so much wrong in the world that we can only cling to what is Right. Those are the times when we are blessed, because we remember just how much Jesus truly has done for us.
So I’m challenging you, and obviously myself, to cling to the faithfulness of God regardless of circumstances. Embrace the struggle of life with a grateful spirit, because living a blessed life is a choice that comes from the heart.
David Ledbetter is a regular contributor to The Increase and will be providing monthly articles and opinions.
Check out David’s Increase profile here: https://theincreasebaseball.com/author/david-ledbetter/
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