Updated: Apr 20, 2022
Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. (Jeremiah 17:7a NIV)
May those who love us, love us; and those who don’t love us, may God turn their hearts; and if He doesn’t turn their hearts, may he turn their ankles so we’ll know them by their limping. ~Irish Blessing
My Irish ancestors call that a blessing, but it’s definitely NOT from the Bible. What is a blessing? We tend to throw the words “blessed” and “blessing” around a lot in 21st century USA. People say that they celebrated another birthday, got a raise at work, had a healthy baby, went on a great vacation, and they’re so blessed. What a blessing! But is it really? I think the real words that people mean to use to describe those things are “fortunate, favored, lucky, and good.”
When I look up the main definition of the word “blessed” I find that it means “made holy; consecrated”. (simple Google search) Does going on a great vacation to Hawaii mean that you are made holy? Are you consecrated because you celebrated your 47th birthday at your favorite Chinese restaurant? If you answered “yes” to either of these questions, I am probably raising one or both of my eyebrows!
Jesus laid out a very different view of blessing in the Sermon on the Mount.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. . . . Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven . . . (Matthew 5: 1-12 NIV)
Almost none of the Beatitudes sounds very positive at the start, but they are all encouraging and uplifting for those in hard times. Biblical blessings aren’t Fortune smiling on the good, so much as they are assurances that good will come.
We aren’t blessed when our boss buys us coffee. We are blessed by perseverance under trial. Like living through a pandemic that seems to go on forever, still making the right choices for the safety of others, sacrificing our own comfort (like wearing a mask, social distancing, maybe not having a meeting in person but doing it over Zoom, etc.).
Can we be blessed while struggling to pay the bills, fighting an eviction notice, and then learning we have stage 3 colon cancer? Those set apart for the Lord are blessed even then. Put simply, the blessed are in His care. And they trust God for their future, no matter what’s happening in the present.
Maybe being blessed is being that person who asks their child’s teacher who in the class won’t get birthday presents from their family this year, and finds a way to get each student in need a secret $50 present pack or gift card to make them feel special!
While I joked in the beginning with an Irish “blessing”, it still rings somewhat accurate for how God blesses us. May those who love us, love us. I like that! I want to be loved and continue to be loved by my friends and family. And those who don’t love us, may God turn their hearts. Hey, that’s nice too! I like it when I can finally find some common ground with people I don’t get along with. I’m not a fan of being at odds with others (even though I like a good argument!)
And if he doesn’t turn their hearts, may he turn their ankles so we’ll know them by their limping. Well, that part falls a little short of how God blesses us in the Bible. Though sometimes, a twisted ankle is part of His plan. Maybe for the best? Perhaps it will teach us to stop focusing on ourselves, look outward, and be a blessing to those who could use it. Like people with horrible limps, who might need their groceries carried into the house from the car (we all heard about my knee injury at the New Year, yes?) The blessing comes full circle!
May you all find yourselves blessed, trusting in God’s care, no matter what is happening in your life. May you be set apart and made holy. May you find ways to lift others up, and may you store up treasures in heaven, as Jesus promises us all.