Wednesday, March 13, 2013

"Blessed Are..." ~ A Visit from Jennifer

Uncle David & Aunt Jenn
Before the role models of babysitters, teachers, and professionals-of-your-sphere, there are, and ever shall be, aunts. "Tante Jenn" - travelling all the way from Loches, France for our party this week - is just such an example. With a contagious joy in life, a wonderful laugh, and a beautiful story of obedience to the Lord {she & my uncle & two cousins left their 'normal' lives & newly-remodelled dream house in the states to become missionaries}, I treasure every conversation we have {even more so, now that she lives half-way across the world!}. She blogs about the lessons, joys, and challenges {and sometimes good ol' funny stories} of ministering in a different culture over at Four For France.
Friends, allow me to introduce my aunt, Jennifer.
Do you have one of those friends for whom everything always seems to go well? I do.

She lives in a big house that is delightfully decorated. She has three bright-eyed children and a hard-working, faithful husband. She is popular, fit, and cute to boot. She is the type who plans out her life months, sometimes years in advance, and nothing ever seems to interfere with her agenda. She has a warm and open personality, a joyful countenance, and a deep love for Jesus. By her own admittance, she has never really suffered.

So it seemed the most natural thing in the world to me when she blithely stated, "I'm just so blessed."

Yet, when she said it, my heart beat seemed to grow heavy. I squinted, trying to assess my recoil. While I believe her statement was an expression of genuine gratitude, something about it chaffed. Finally, gently, I whispered, "People who suffer are blessed, too."

"Oh, I know," she said, a little too quickly, and on we went to other subjects.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

I can't stop thinking about that brief conversation. I wonder if there is a disconnect in our understanding of blessing. What does it mean to be blessed?

According to the dictionary, it means "divinely favored." But it can also mean "blissfully happy."
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.

I know that every good gift is from above, and indeed, the pleasing circumstances of my life are blessings. But if I stop there, might that be too narrow of a view? Isn't it also true that God blesses us in and through challenging circumstances?

And while I don't think we need to go looking for trouble or inviting disaster into our lives, I do sometimes wonder if our relentless pursuit of our own comfort and glory could be barriers, rather than pathways, to blessing.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.

What if I chose the "discomfort" of living in a smaller house so that I might be more generous? What if I sought opportunities to serve others so that I might be more humble? what if I turned the other cheek instead of defending my "rights"? What if I demonstrated love to someone who treats me with indifference or even hatred? Do I need to wait for calamity to come to me in order to experience the blessings that Jesus speaks about in Matthew 5? Or could it be my calling to engage in suffering no matter my circumstances?
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.


Sandy Bjorkman said...

I read your thought provoking journal entry. I don't know anyone that has never suffered in any way. I know some that have suffered persecution for their adherance to what they believe the Bible tells us to do. I think they are blessed and are stronger in their faith for having had the courage to stand. I know a few others that seem to enjoy suffering to the point that they contrive things to suffer about.It seems to provide them with topics of conversations. They are the energy drainers who constantly need some form of attention, Which leads me to say I am not sure if that can be considered genuine "suffering" if they enjoy it enough to not change their behavior, attitude or circumstance.

Lauren said...

Thank you for sharing this, Aunt Jenn! I'm afraid I have too "narrow a view" of blessings, and your post is definitely causing me to rethink my attitude!

Emily said...

Great food for thought, Aunt Jenn! I'd always seemed to think that when you came out of a trial, that's when you would be blessed, but you have a really good point! :-)