As I was driving home yesterday afternoon an old, but all too familiar song, came on the radio. As I sung along, I did so with such joy and gratitude for all the things God has given and taken away…I am blessed by them all. Too many people mistake blessings for those things that bring pleasure and happiness, and that’s just so very wrong. God never says it’s His desire to make you happy and fulfill all of your wants. He does say quite a lot about suffering, though, and the journey of sanctification.
Blessings come in all forms and are those things that ultimately bring us closer to the Lord. Some of my greatest blessings, for instance, have been a direct by-product of deep pain and personal loss where I can cling to nothing and no one but my Savior. To be blessed is to know and find comfort that God is aware of it ALL…the good, the bad and the ugly. I would not have the same perspectives and passion for Christ if it weren’t for the trying things He has seen me through and allowed me to grow in Him.
The song on the radio, if you haven’t already guessed, was “Blessed Be Your Name” and the reason it strikes such a resonating chord with me is because the night my ex-husband left me (true abandonment in every sense of the word), it was the very song I opened up with at a worship event where I was leading the music. I had just been told “I don’t love you” over the phone and minutes later was singing the lyrics “You give and take away, You give and take away, my heart will choose to say, Lord blessed be Your name”. At that time, my heart was heavily focused on what was being taken away and had no idea the months of pain, anguish and ultimate healing that would follow. That moment, though, of singing those words to a group of people who had no idea what I’d just heard and was about to experience in the year that ensued, is burned in the recesses of my mind. I will never forget and I treasure the strength God gave me to worship Him and lead others to do the same that evening and during that entire season. Today as I sing those same lyrics, I’m so very grateful for all God has taken away because through it I’ve been given SO much more!
This is a short post, but I want everyone to be encouraged that blessings are not what prosperity/health and wealth/word-faith proponents falsely promote. Jesus suffered, didn’t He?!?! And if we are to go through this life becoming conformed more and more to reflect Him and grow in Him, we will experience trials and sufferings…that’s one thing the Bible talks about plenty. Just read 1 Peter 2:20-25. The book of James says we are to “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing…Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:2-4; 12). Romans 5:1-5 says “we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God. And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us.”
I am so incredibly blessed to know and have experienced true blessings in all things. “God works all things to work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). Most people leave out the second part of that equation…to those who love Him. Well, I do love Him, and I trust Him in the good and the bad because I’ve learned and experienced His faithfulness during every season of blessing. Be encouraged to sing to Him no matter what place you find yourself in. Don’t just praise Him when things are going well by your standards and on the same note, don’t wallow and in self-pity when things are difficult. As long as we live in this world, we can be certain of one thing: suffering will take place. So Praise Him when things are breaking you down knowing that His purpose is to build you up and develop your character. He’s more concerned about your holiness than your happiness, and no matter what, He loves us and never leaves nor forsakes. Now that’s what I call a blessing!