“God bless you!” the grey-haired older lady said to me. What did I do, I wondered. What is this ‘blessing business’ I keep hearing?
What does ‘bless ‘ mean? Is it just a figure of speech that makes the hearer feel better? Is it a word that makes the speaker feel more spiritual?
The word bless means God’s favor and protection. The noun blessing means asking for favor and protection, as in a short prayer at a meal, or grace. Also it means the act of one that blesses. It can mean approval, words of comfort, encouragement and inspiration. Or one can be blessed….Who began this blessing and who is blessed. There are 35 references to blessed just in Genesis. Nearly all refer to the Lord blessing his creation. God is in the blessing mode and the early fathers blessed sons.
David understood the relationship between God and blessing – Blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods. Psalm 40:4
Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, LORD. Psalm 89:15
Several years ago, a father gave his daughter, the new bride, a blessing during the wedding ceremony. I listened in amazement for I thought blessings were only used by Old Testament people. People like Abraham, Isaac and Jacob gave blessings to their sons.
Matthew 5 contains the ‘Beatitudes’ or the ‘Be Happies’. 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
A daunting list of character traits and situations are given for those who are blessed. For me, I use this list to measure my life – poor in spirit, mourn, meek, hunger for righteousness, merciful, pure in heart, persecuted because of rightousness, insulted because of Jesus –these are not reasons to feel as a victim or down=trodden – but to be glad and rejoice. The basis for being blessed.
A blessing gives cause for counting….for this song writer. “Name them one by one…” Sometimes our hearts are so filled with joy and thanksgiving that we want to share. Is that where the song writer found these words….”Make me a blessing…make me a blessing…out of my life.”
A blessing can come from sunshine and joy in life. Other times a blessing comes from a dark storm in our lives. The blessing comes with faithfulness and trust and relationships. As a teen, I remember singing the song, “No Man is an Island.” I didn’t understand it then, and unable to articulate the importance of relationship. In the book by Mike Mason, The Mystery of Children, one chapter stands out. The author declares that we cannot live in solitary confinement in this world. For we are someone’s child, someone’s spouse, someone’s parent, someone’s neighbor. The pebble dropped into the lake of life ripples out, just as our lives ripple out to touch many.
When the Author of Blessings is our Father, when our life is defined by our relationship with our Lord, then we are blessed indeed. “However, self-seeking behavior is self-defeating.” Mike Mason continues…”This is sin in a nut-shell.”
To be a blessing, or even recognize being blessed, we nurture the relationships God has given us. This reveals to us just “Who” we are, not only in God’s eyes, but our families’ eyes and wherever and whoever the life-ripple touches.
This ‘life-ripple’ continues through time. Our relationships, our connections, live on. Our choices and actions and our inner being are etched on the hearts of others around us. Today I received an email written by a cousin to watch for old pictures of the family – and the pictures will tell of another time. The pictures will be another ‘life-ripple’ for me. And I received a Christmas card that was filled with remembrances and who she was and who I was in a relationship long ago blessed me today. Someone very wise said, “Don’t burn any bridges,” in reference to relationships. Somehow our lives are one piece, not compartmentalized, but woven together.
What are my blessings in this day and age? Family, a rose bush that blooms in the face of coming winter, God’s word, the freedom to pray, sunsets and sunrises, friends, laughter, a new born baby, the innocence of a child, the warmth in a smile or a hug, a cup of soup. The joy of knowing that love comes in many different hues in my life. Knowing that God creates love and harmony and beauty and allows me to taste it.
What is our blessing to our children? You have blessed us in so many ways that will continue to grand children and great grandchildren.
Dear children, look not to the world and its enticements for happiness for they are fleeting. But put your hope in God, and your hand in His hand. Walk with Him in this world. This is our deepest desire and prayer that we meet again in Heaven when this life on earth is done.