“Wow, God must really be blessing you for what you’re doing!”, said an old acquaintance to me a few days ago. He was commenting on our agreement to take three of my brother’s children into our home and family and engage in the process of their healing. I smiled and replied, “Yes, He is.” And I meant it, but not the way he thought I did.
When we think of the blessings of God, we often think of great and miraculous provision. We think of more, we think of new, we think of abundance we can feel and see and give praise reports about on Sunday morning.
Our blessings have been different. The blessing of God in this season has come in the form of pain, loss, misunderstanding, lack, and even persecution. For what we’ve given, the response of those around us has been disappointing at best. There are, of course, some who have rallied their love and support. I don’t want to discount that. And God has made sure to provide the strength and the necessities for each day. But the scene is not a gloriously jubilant one in our home each day. At least not the way my old acquaintance must think it is.
Our days are often filled with tears and struggles that we have to wade our way through with a patience that is painful. We have tasted heartbreak so deep that we have wondered if we will ever recover. We have become friends with bone-deep weariness and marriage-crushing demands. We have been devoured by malicious accusations and manipulative gossip, even from the mouths of the ones we have taken in to feed. We have been treated as traitors, rather than heroes. We have received the sharp arrows of blame that others deserve far more than we do.
Yes, we are being blessed. I laughed to myself when he said it, because it’s true, even though it doesn’t feel like it. And because it was the Lord’s reminder to me that, while I am still looking for some avalanche of “blessing” to flow in – in a more palatable form – this is what He’s chosen for me. For us. This is all a part of His gracious plan.
How can it be? A year ago, I would have had some theological argument to offer up in protest. But today, I possess – by God’s grace – the humility to accept good as well as evil from God’s hand. I know that God does not create that which is evil. But He uses it. He is using it. As painful as it is, He has somehow appointed good to come from it. He has somehow taken the plans and purposes of hell and is turning them into a great blessing for me. For us.
His Word bears witness to this truth, should I be confused by such a reality. Job, after being struck by Satan, credited God with everything when he said, “Should we receive good from God, and should we not receive evil?” (Job 2:10) Job had the faith to believe that hell could not touch Him unless God allowed it.
Jesus told us what true blessing looks like in the Sermon on the Mount, as He told His disciples what the Christian life would be: “Blessed are the poor in spirit…Blessed are those who mourn…Blessed are the meek…Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness…Blessed are the merciful…Blessed are the pure in heart…Blessed are the peacemakers…Blessed are the persecuted.” (Matthew 5:1-12) Each of these blessings costs us dearly, but each comes with a greater reward. Jesus knew it because He lived it. And if He lived it, we, too, are destined to enter into such a reality. It is the way of the cross. The only way that leads to true glory.
James agreed with Job and Jesus, saying, “Blessed is the man who perseveres through trials, for when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love Him.” (James 1:12). Actually, James even goes so far as to say that we ought to rejoice when trials come, because we are being made complete by them (James 1:2-4). That is faith: singing from the prison of despair, dancing over barren graves that seem to promise only more devastation. I want that kind of faith. In truth, I have prayed for such faith. Could these trials be a part of God’s answer to my prayers?
Yes, I am – we are -blessed indeed.
Today, my devotional reminded me that the trials of life are sent to make us, not break us. Writer Malthie D. Babcock encouraged my fainting soul: “If God places anything difficult in our lives, we can be sure that the real danger or trouble will be what we will lose if we run or rebel against it.” Wise soul, indeed. Rooted faith, indeed. Blessed life, indeed.
Today, as you and I survey the painful realities of our lives, may we find God’s strength to rejoice, trusting and believing that – if we are in the will of God – we are truly blessed. So often, He blesses and then breaks and then distributes what has been blessed and broken to the needy. May our lives be surrendered to such a purpose. And may we never doubt nor despair in the blessing or the brokenness that prepares us for His beautiful service.