Here's an upside down concept: We are mortal creatures. But we have been made in the image of the Divine.
When the Bible uses the word blessing, we can only comprehend it when our framework, our thinking, our wills and our affections have been completely caught up in the ways and power of the One who wrote the Bible. And we can best understanding what it means to be blessed through the words of Jesus at the Sermon on the Mount. (Matthew 5:2-12)
Christ pronounced a series of conditions in which his followers would find themselves happy: Those who are poor in spirit, who mourn, who are meek, who hunger and thirst, who are merciful, the pure in heart and the peacemakers. And let’s not forget those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, reviled and slandered. What? Happy?!
Our natural conditions cannot be happy in these conditions. But read these from the perspective of a heart surrendered to Christ.
Oh, yeah. That’s blessing. That’s blessing that goes way, way beyond the casual use of the word in today’s Christianese parlance. That’s world-upside-down, catch-me-outside-of-my-comfort-zone blessing.
Listen to the crazy happy tone in Paul’s words about suffering here in 2 Corinthians 12:
“I must go on boasting! Though there is nothing to be gained by it, I will go on to visions and revelations of the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows. And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter.
On behalf of this man I will boast, but on my own behalf I will not boast, except of my weaknesses—though if I should wish to boast, I would not be a fool, for I would be speaking the truth; but I refrain from it, so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me.
So to keep me from becoming conceited because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to harass me, to keep me from becoming conceited. Three times I pleaded with the Lord about this, that it should leave me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’
Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:1-10)
No matter what the circumstances, Paul found cause for celebration, praise, faith, comfort. (Phil. 4:11b-13).
Corrie ten Boom, who spent her tender years in a Nazi concentration camp, learned this, too:
“If you look at the world, you’ll be distressed. If you look within, you’ll be depressed. But if you look at Christ, you’ll be at rest.”
“When we are powerless to do a thing, it is a great joy that we can come and step inside the ability of Jesus.”
“Joy runs deeper than despair.”
** Five Minute Friday (FMF) is a weekly event hosted at the website of Kate Motaung wherein participants are given a single word prompt every Thursday evening, which remains active for one week. How to play: write for 5 minutes on the thoughts, memories, impressions, reflections, aspirations, hopes, beliefs, convictions, or whatever, that that prompt word brings to mind. Set a timer, write without worry about spelling or grammar or typos, and stop when the timer goes off (no cheating). The rules are here. It's free, it's non-committal, and it's easy to participate, so come to the #FMFparty with me! This week, the word was BLESSING. (Disclaimer: I usually start a piece according to the rules, and then it develops into a regular blog post.)
Laura England Miller