February 17, 2011

blessed

"peace does not come from finding a lake with no storms. it comes from having JESUS in the boat." john ortberg

this past week has been a challenge in more ways than one. sometimes life presents us with situations that are simply not of our making and out of our control. sometimes the prettiest people are ugly, showing their humanity in the poor ways in which they choose to treat us. and sometimes we are left questioning GOD'S faithfulness and wondering if we are truly blessed.

but this morning i woke up to a profound thought. right as i was about to let myself become overwhelmed and upset. right as i was about to give into sadness and despair. right as i was about to question GOD'S hand and blessing in my life, i realized that for my entire life i have been misusing the word "blessed."

i use the word "blessed" at least once a day. i am quick to count my blessings and to share them with as many people as i can. but i realized today that i have been incorrectly identifying and misunderstanding blessings in my life and essentially allowing myself to define GOD'S goodness.

when i am happy, GOD is good. when my life is free of pain, i am blessed. when all of my friends and family are healthy and content, GOD is good. when my life is free of conflict, i am blessed. when GOD provides me with a job or position, HE is good. when i am happily dating a cute boy, i am blessed. when i succeed at something, GOD is good. when my life is carefree, i am blessed. when everything is going my way, GOD is good. when there are no storms, i am blessed.

and then i realized that blessings are not about me at all. that being blessed is not determined by feelings or situation. that GOD'S goodness is not dependent on my happiness. that real blessing is secondary to pain and suffering. that those who were blessed in scripture were the worst off. the despised. the rejected. the least of all.

those who are truly blessed are: the poor in spirit. those who mourn. the meek. those who hunger and thirst for righteousness. the merciful. the pure in heart. the peacemakers. the persecuted (matt. 5:3-12). those who are slandered. those who are cursed (1 cor. 4:12-14). those whose help and hope is in GOD (psalm 146:5). the hated. the excluded. the insulted. the rejected (luke 6:22).

GOD doesn't promise a life without storms. HE promises rain (matt. 5:45). HE promises waves (matt. 8:26). HE promises enemies (matt. 10:36). HE promises suffering (romans 8:17). HE promises trials (james 1:2). HE promises testing (james 1:3). and HE doesn't say "if," HE says "when" (james 1:13).

there will be times when we are tested to tell the truth in the face of opposition. when we are forced into the middle of a conflict that we didn't create. when we are forced to confront. when we are forced to stand for righteousness. when we won't be able to please another person. when we will be mocked, cursed, persecuted, and mistreated. and GOD will still be good, and we will be blessed.

real blessing comes in the struggle. in the suffering. in the trial. in the fire. in the weakness. in the pain. in the failure. in the betrayal. in frustration. in despair. in anger. in loss.

and i discovered today that i am blessed because HE is jealous for me (nahum 1:2). because HE is constantly fighting for me (exodus 14:14). because HE is constantly correcting me (job 5:17). because HE is constantly refining me (isaiah 48:10).

therefore, when i am cursed, i will bless. when i am persecuted, i will endure. when i am slandered, i will answer kindly (1 cor. 4:12-13). for CHRIST'S sake, i will delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. when i am weak, i will be strong (2 cor. 12:10). and it is then that i will say that i am blessed.

"and this is my prayer in the fire, in weakness or trial or pain. there is a faith proved of more worth than gold, so refine me LORD through the flames. and i will bring praise. i will bring praise. no weapon forged against me shall remain. i will rejoice. i will declare. GOD is my victory and HE is here." "desert song" by the zoe group

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