Monday, March 24, 2014

Showers of . . . Blessing???

In my nightly prayer with my husband the other night, I was about to repeat my standard “Thank you, Lord, for all the blessings in our lives” . . . and I was caught short. I couldn't say that. And it's all thanks to an article a friend asked me to read.

The author talks about how we (comfortable, rich Western Christian America) have kind of hijacked the word “blessed” and made it mean something it shouldn't mean. We look at the material good fortune that has come our way, for whatever reason, and think that we are blessed. That God is blessing us.
Who says it's a blessing?

Really, it's not just an incorrect way of viewing it, it's an insulting way of viewing it. If wealth, physical comfort, and security is a blessing from God, what do you say to the thousands and thousands of faithful believers in the world who have none of these? Why is God blessing me but not them? (Frankly, most of them are far more deserving.) Considering how these material advantages often make me self-assured, weak in my faith, and less dependent on God, how can they be considered a blessing?
They are not a blessing. Not in the way we define blessing. We've got to stop thinking that way.
I have friends struggling with medical issues beyond my comprehension. I have friends who don't know how they're paying the mortgage next month. I have friends whose marriages are falling apart. I have friends whose children have gone off a variety of deep ends. I have NO IDEA why I'm healthy, financially stable, and generally happy and secure today, but I'm quite certain it's not a reward for my faithfulness . . . or a sign of God's extra love for me more than anyone else . . . or because God thinks I deserve a life of ease when others don't.
It's not a reward – it's a responsibility. It's not a blessing – it's a burden.
This may seem like I'm being picky about semantics, but I'm going to start being more cautious about how I use that word. I'm grateful for the financial stability God has given our family, but God's blessing for us is not financial stability. God's blessing for us is the honor of having a relationship with Him.
It really does matter. How we talk about these things affects how we think about these things. If we sing that old hymn, “There shall be showers of blessing” (Does anyone sing that anymore?) and imagine money, friends, soft beds, nice cars, and hot lattes falling from the clouds, we are thinking of God as a jolly, bearded, behavioral psychologist in the sky who tries to control us with positive reinforcement.
No, no, no, no. The money, security, and favorable opportunities He gives us are tools He puts in our hands to use for His Kingdom. Tools for use. Not to “bless” us (the way we define blessing). Not for our pleasure and comfort and ease.
The joy, peace, and love we receive as He holds us in His arms – like a shepherd carries a lamb – those are the blessings. They are for our pleasure and comfort and ease. And they accomplish those things much more effectively than the money does.
May we use well the tools He gives us. And may we revel in the shower of His blessings.

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