I am blessed. Or am I? I have long believed that I am, and I still do. Yet one thing I read this week in preparing for the sermon got me to thinking about using that phrase. In his book What Makes a Hero? The Death-Defying Ministry of Jesus Christ, author and United Methodist pastor Matt Rawle says,
“When my wife and I started having children, we were quick to say that we were ‘blessed.’ But how do people without children understand this language of blessing? One night we were out to dinner with some friends who were finding it difficult to have children of their own. Seeing their despair and sadness made us realize we needed to change our language. Instead of saying that we were blessed to have children, we began saying we were thankful for having a family with little ones. Changing our language from blessing to thankfulness is one of the ways we can dissolve the divide between us and our friends.”*
This got me to thinking about all the ways I have been “blessed.” I am blessed to have children, but what about those who so desperately want them and can’t have them. I am blessed that my children are grown adults and responsible, hard-working citizens. But what about those families who have lost children to illness, accidents, addiction, and so much more. I am blessed because my cancer treatment was successful and I have received really good reports from my doctors. But what about those whose diagnosis and fight weren’t so favorable, so they are now dealing with end of life decisions or have left families behind to deal with the grief.
Blessing, when used in this context isn’t so helpful, especially to those struggling with the things of life. Used in this context, we make God into a vending machine. Put your quarter in and get what you really want. Then we are blessed. Friends, I don’t think God works this way. God isn’t a wish-list God. Yes we can bring God our desires, but God often has a different plan for us. More importantly, God in the form of Jesus Christ, promised to never leave us or forsake us. God walks with us through the valleys of darkness and death just the same as God walks with us on the mountaintops of celebration. Our God is always with us. Jesus died, took our sins upon Himself and into the depths of hell, and was raised again to defeat death and secure a place for us in God’s eternal Kingdom. This is the only blessing!!! It is what matters.
So today I am going to do my best to change my mindset. I am blessed by a Savior who loves me and extends His overwhelming and abundant grace to me. I am thankful for everything else.
*Matt Rawle, What Makes a Hero? The Death-Defying Ministry of Jesus. (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2017), 96-7.