Monday, December 17, 2007


One dictionary definition of "blessed" is "bringing happiness and contentment." But there's a lot more to being happy than getting what we want. Indeed, there is hardly a more chronically discontented soul than the spoiled brat.

Jesus defined in the Beatitudes what characterizes the truly "blessed" person: "the poor in spirit... those who mourn... the meek... those who hunger and thirst for righteousness... the merciful... the pure in heart... the peacemakers... those who are persecuted because of righteousness." Much of this runs counter to our human ideas of blessing. We can perhaps understand how having clear consciences and thinking of others could make us happy--but don't we have to attend to our own needs somewhere? And how can mourning and persecution possibly bring happiness?

The "blessedness" here lies not in the experience, but in knowing that, when we feel God's pain (for our own sin as well as for a suffering world) and take a stand for Him, we have His blessing and approval, that "great is [our] reward in heaven" (Mt. 5:12) and that the highest position on earth cannot begin to compare with the lowest spot in heaven. Or as the psalmists put it, "Better is one day in [God's] courts than a thousand elsewhere; [better to] be a doorkeeper in the house of... God than dwell in the tents of the wicked" (Ps. 84:10, NIV). A modern metaphor might be: I would rather be a waiter and eat in the kitchen, if chocolate cheesecake were part of the bargain, than sit at the head of a table that serves only sugar cookies.

Of course, God sees fit to grant most of us some earthly blessings as well. When we are doing exceptionally well even by human standards, let us not forget Who is responsible, nor that He deserves regular thanks. We are not "lucky," nor are we receiving our "due" for hard work; we are blessed by God with good things. He has every right to be displeased if we become so enthralled with material blessings that we forget to practice those attitudes that characterize all the blessed!

When the wealth of life surrounds you,
When your days in ease are dressed,
Do not say that you are happy:
Say instead that you are blessed.

When the pains of life assail you,
When you long for peace and rest,
Though your path be marked in sorrow,
Never doubt that you are blessed.

When you view the years behind you,
When regret may dog your past,
Know that God was in each moment,
Working toward your good at last.

When you strain to glimpse the future,
Whether sought in hope or fear,
Know God's blessing leads you always:
Know He has ordained each year.

He is in our times of plenty,
He is in our days of shame;
He alone is Peace and Wisdom--
Blessed be His mighty name!

No comments: