Monday, February 2, 2015

Are You #Blessed?

I am currently dealing with the reality that I have cancer -- not again, as it seems it never left, but where and how much seems to be the issue at hand. But please, please, please -- that is not the takeaway. I am #blessed. First of all, had I not been diagnosed with Grave's Disease last winter, it could have delayed the treatment and care I have received from some wonderful professionals, at moderate expense, thanks to the job that pays the bills, the job that God gave me over 25 years ago in preparation for this very issue. #Blessed. Secondly, although I am not sure how all of this will turn out in the end, I can rest on a promise made to me in Romans 8:28:
"And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose."
All things, for good. All is pretty self-explanatory: every last thing. Good and bad however, are pretty relative terms when we use them. Chocolate ice cream is good. Strawberry ice cream is bad. But ask someone with an allergy to chocolate, and chocolate ice cream can be very bad. When God uses "good," you can bet it's very good for those who love God.

Following Jesus is all about giving thanks in all circumstances and being able to say, "I am blessed" in a completely different way than the world would say it. Matthew 5:2-12 says you re blessed if you are concerned about your moral condition even though your concern is making you look like a loser in front of the guys in the locker room; if you mourn for worldly people who couldn't care if you were dead; if you are humble (you keep it to less than eight selfies each day); if you love to do what's right even when everyone else is doing what's wrong; if you forgive people who steal your stuff or bully your kid or lie about you to get a promotion you totally deserved; or if you take it on the chin everyday from that boorish ignoramus at work who thinks God is nothing more than a fairy tale and Christians are losers. That's some pretty tough criteria. However, it does not say you are #Unblessed if God provides you with a brand new car after you've ridden the bus for the last twelve years, or a set of triplets after you've adopted five other children. Those are blessings as well!

Jamie, the Very Worst Missionary, in her post "#Blessed," says she believes "blessed" is grossly misused and should no longer be part of a Christian's vocabulary. I take issue with this most obviously, because the word is used at least fifty times in the Scriptures; I don't think God would encourage us to desire blessing if we weren't even supposed to use the word. I think it's quite proper for Christians to use it; in fact, I think we should be using it more, and Jamie's argument supports that:
"You would never come across a status update that says, 'Terrible accident killed half my family. Funeral is Monday. #mourning #SoBlessed'
"'Wish I could kick this effing porn habit. I want nothing more than to live a life that honors my spouse and my God and my covenant with them both. #Blessed and #desperateforrighteoussness.'”
Why not? Aren't we blessed in all circumstances? As a matter of fact, I know a mother who recently lost her daughter. She is struggling, she is sorrowful, she is even distraught in some moments, but she has chosen to find the blessing in every day. She knows her Heavenly Father is seeing her through each moment of each day, and she is no less blessed because the days are difficult.

Scott Dannemiller, in his article for Huff Post, "The One Thing Christians Should Stop Saying," echoes Jamie's opinion that feeling blessed because of material goods is an insult to those who are not financially prospering. He also adds:
"[W]hen I say that my material fortune is the result of God's blessing, it reduces The Almighty to some sort of sky-bound, wish-granting fairy who spends his days randomly bestowing cars and cash upon his followers."
So, if Tim Tebow tweets "#Blessed," is that some commentary on my financial status, my athletic ability, my looks, my masculinity, my relationship with God, what? "Oh, woe is me. I am so unblessed because I am not a rich, publicly ridiculed, single dude who is out of a job and has had multiple injuries as a result of a possible bone-crushing, career-ending job." It is God's choice whom and how He blesses; "the rain falls on the just and the unjust alike" (Matthew 5:45). If I am offended by someone else's gratitude, after I re-examine the Scriptures about God's sovereignty, I need to spend a little time getting over myself.

Instead of eliminating the use of "#Blessed," I say we more frequently recognize the depth of our blessing, and show others just what it means to rejoice over those blessings in all circumstances:
"Though the fig tree may not blossom,
Nor fruit be on the vines;
Though the labor of the olive may fail,
And the fields yield no food;
Though the flock may be cut off from the fold,
And there be no herd in the stalls—
Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
I will joy in the God of my salvation.
The Lord God is my strength;
He will make my feet like deer’s feet,
And He will make me walk on my high hills." (Habakkuk 3:17-19)  
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