The word is used a lot today. We use “Feeling Blessed” as our status when things are going well and we are able to look on the bright side. Signing off our correspondence we write “Blessings” to wish the recipient of our message well. Counting our blessings with a heart of thanksgiving, has even become an informal movement among believers, instigated in part by author Ann Voskamp’s book One Thousand Gifts.
But then there is Laura Story’s chart topping song, entitled “Blessings”:
“‘…what if Your blessings come through raindrops…tears…sleepless nights”
Honestly, I wasn’t that thrilled when I first heard this song. My physical pain doesn’t feel like a blessing. I’m not fond of sleepless nights and I don’t do tears if I can avoid it. While I understand that God works through difficulty and pain to refine us, I find it hard to see trials and suffering as blessings.
What is “blessing” anyway? A comprehensive answer would take longer than I have, so I hope this will suffice. Some translations of the Bible substitute the word “happy,” but in my opinion the English word falls short.
Here are a few definitions of the noun “blessed”:
-a special favor, mercy, or benefit
-the invoking of God’s favor upon a person
Blessing, of course is also a verb, as used by God to Abraham (Genesis 12:2) and Isaac (Genesis 25:11).
Isaac, when blessing Jacob includes these words “heaven’s dew and earth’s richness, an abundance of grain and new wine.” (Genesis 27:28.) These would signify material blessing—you know, the kind we all want. Certain TV preachers would lead us to believe we are entitled to material blessings from God and that our happiness is the definitive goal.
Revelation 1:3 tells us we will be blessed. “Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.”
What kind of blessing is the apostle John speaking of? If I delve into the book of Revelation does this mean I get a new house, a new car, solid finances, perfect children and an end to physical pain? Will I wake up happy and smiling every day?
When the apostle John wrote these words, he wasn’t living it up. He was in exile, banished to an island for preaching the gospel. Not what most of us would consider “blessed.”
Going back again to Genesis, God also promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Israel) a covenant blessing, one that was not dependant on what they or their descendants would do (Genesis 12:3, 26:4, 28:14-15) “All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.”
Obviously this could not be a material blessing. Many nations of the world live in poverty and the nation of Israel has not exactly seen peace and prosperity throughout its existence.
As believers, we now know that Jesus Christ fulfills that promise of blessing for all peoples, through His salvation.
The blessing John was speaking of is also a spiritual blessing, the completion of that covenant promised in Genesis. The blessing of Revelation is to be found in knowing and worshipping Jesus Christ. Lesson 2 of the BSF notes states (p.2): “Revelation unveils God’s own Person, the greatness of His Son and the activity of His Spirit.” Knowing, understanding and taking Jesus to heart is the ultimate blessing.
Laura Story, the writer of the song, is a woman well acquainted with unexpected challenges in life and I’m sure she knows that it is in times of struggle, when we are driven to our knees and to the throne of God’s infinite grace that we get to know Jesus better.
That is the sum of all blessings, for today and for eternity.