|Uncle David & Aunt Jenn|
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.