What It Really Means To Be Blessed

I don’t know what pops into your head when you hear the word “blessed.” I know when the subject is brought up in either Christian or secular circles, many folks rattle off lists that center around possessions, health, wealth, social status, job status, friends and family.

Fair enough. But where does that leave those who are ill and live in poverty, obscurity, and solidarity? Are they not blessed? Is there any way for them to become blessed?

Those who qualify themselves as blessed because of certain possessions or statuses may be tempted to think that since they are doing so well, and others are not, they must be doing something right and others must be doing something wrong and well … sufferers probably deserve their trials.

Jesus puts an end to that thinking in Matthew 5. He says, Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. (vs. 3-4) Then He goes on to list meekness, hungering and thirsting for righteousness, mercy, pureness in spirit, and the peacemaking, as the characteristics of those who are blessed. Lastly, He states one physical circumstance as a qualifier for being blessed:

Persecution. 

*crickets*

*and more crickets*

I don’t see health, wealth, stuff, friends, family, or job status on the list. As is the norm, what Jesus values is vastly different than what the world values. Jesus focuses on the heart, whereas the world focuses on the comforts and pleasures of this world. That’s not to pooh pooh the comforts and pleasures of the world. God gave us all things richly to enjoy, within reason. It’s just to say that the amount of goodies one is able to possess or partake of is not what qualifies one as “blessed.”

Matters of the heart always trump matters of physical, social, and familial statuses. In other words, what goes on around us is important, but what’s most important is what takes place in the crevices of our hearts and minds. How are we responding to whatever has been alloted to us in this world? If we are poor, do we respond in anger or humility? If we have lost a loved one, do we exhibit joy or despair? If we are being persecuted, are we responding in faithfulness, even to death? If we are a writer and know full well we may live seven and a half decades in poverty and total obscurity, are we responding in obedience to our calling, with gladness, or are we bent on striving for our own glory? (That last example may have gotten a tad personal.)

Speaking of personal, many of you know that we are, in a sense, losing our home. We bought it almost a year ago, exactly, and due to my health and frankly, the health of the house, we have to sell. More than that, in order to keep what health I still posses, I’ve been forced to move out long before it would be prudent to prop a For Sale sign in the front yard. I have, in many ways, felt poor over the last year. And while I can’t say I’ve consistently responded as a blessed person, as Biblically defined in Matthew, the overall, simple, childlike conclusion I’ve come to is this:

Though I feel put out, grumpy, sick, and exhausted, I still have to be nice. Foxes have their holes and the birds of the air have their nests while my favorite place to lay my head has been taken from me. But I am still called to follow Jesus. Here. Now. Before home and health are restored. In the midst of suffering. Thankfully, I have everything I need to keep following, because Christ empowers me and no circumstance can ever take Him away. I am, and will always be, well equipped to live out my calling. And ironically, living out that calling is where I find blessedness.

Being blessed in the purest sense necessarily includes pursuing good things and partaking. Not of earthly stuff and statuses, but of Christ-likeness and the sufferings of Christ.

That’s enough brutal truth to chew on for one day. I think even the crickets have been silenced.

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