So That

 In Earl McClure, Preaching & Teaching

“I am so blessed!” “May God bless you.” “Dear Lord, please bless me.” Have you ever said any of these, or something similar? I certainly have. We know that blessings and being blessed are Biblical. All who follow the Lord Jesus Christ are directly under the covenant God made with Abraham: “And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.” (Genesis 12:2, emphasis added) The Lord will bless us so that we will be a blessing to everyone we meet. 

When we say or hear or read a message like this we, or at least I, jump to thoughts of blessings of comfort, ease, peace, joy, burdens being taken away or never given in the first place, and even material goods. To be blessed means to have the good life; to eat, drink, and be merry; to cocoon in our comfortable lifestyles away from the cares of the world. But listen to what William Barclay calls the “Paradox of Blessedness” in his commentary on Jesus’ birth narrative in Luke 1:39-45. “To be chosen by God so often means at one and the same time a crown of joy and cross of sorrow. The piercing truth is that God does not choose a person for ease and comfort and selfish joy but for a task that will take all that head and heart and hand can bring to it.” (The Gospel of Luke, pg 13-14.) Barclay is writing about Elizabeth bestowing blessing upon Mary, the mother of Jesus: “And she exclaimed with a loud cry, ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!'” (Luke 1:42) Being chosen by God to be the mother of Jesus was certainly a blessing, but it also brought Mary suffering as well. Mary had to endure the whispering of the women around the village well as they gossiped about her pregnancy while still unwed. During Jesus’ public ministry His family was concerned for His welfare and “went out to seize Him, for they were saying ‘He is out of His mind.'” (Mark 3:21) Then at the end of Jesus’ life she stood at the foot of the cross and watched Him die (John 19:25). Indeed, the blessing of being the mother of the Lord brought with it much bitter fruit. 

Could all the blessings that God bestows upon us come without strings when Mary’s blessing was all tied up with strings? I believe that God gives us blessings because He loves us and wants to give good things to His children (Matthew 7:11). An example of this occurs in 1 Chronicles 4:10 where “Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, ‘Oh that you would bless me … so that it might not bring me pain?’ And God granted what he asked.” (emphasis added) Jabez directly asked God to pour out blessings upon him and it pleased God to do so. However, perhaps there are times when God grants us blessings (time, skills, money, resources) that He wants us to share with others, just as God told Abraham that he will be blessed but that he is to be a blessing to his neighbors. Perhaps there are times when God wants us to take a role (parent, leader, spokesperson) that will be wrapped in pretty paper – the comfy part of the task – but is tightly bound with strings – the difficulties of a relationship or persecution for doing the right thing, as Mary experienced. We should not ignore the paradox that the blessings God gives us may be both things we desire and things we don’t desire. 

Let us think of blessings with a so that mindset. God, please grant me good health so that I might serve you; thank you for the resources you have given me so that I can use them to help others; allow me to use the opportunities you present to me so that I can bring greater glory to you. With this perspective, whether the blessings bring us ease and comfort or pain and persecution, we can be thankful to God for giving them to us.


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