“Suddenly, a fierce storm struck the lake, with waves breaking into the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him up, shouting, ‘Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!'” – Matthew 8: 23-25
We draw near a slippery slope when we consider who is blessed or not. I would even venture to say it is quite self-assuming to consider oneself to be blessed, when you truly think about its meaning. Blessed is to be made holy, consecrated. It means one has been endowed with divine favor and protection. To consider oneself to be blessed is to assume one is closer to God than others and, as a result, in divine favor with God.
As Christians, we all like to believe we are blessed. We read in Acts about the time Paul and Silas were imprisoned and asked by the jailer, “What must I do to be saved?” Their reply was, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”
Our logic guides us to think that if we believe in Jesus, have been saved by Jesus, then we are certainly blessed. That very well could be so, but it does not mean we are immune to the pain and struggle that can be found in this imperfect world.
Three years ago my life was forever changed when my oldest son, Brad, was killed in an auto accident. Since that time my family and I have come a long way. If you meet me without knowing my past, you probably would not notice I am a grieving father. Within the circle of bereaved parents I continue to be considered very early in my grief. My understanding is somewhere around year five is the pivotal year. Some days can certainly feel like I am early in grief, other days not so much. However, whether it is a good day or bad day, there are always certain things that creep up and trigger my grief.
One such trigger hit me the other morning when I saw a photo of a crashed vehicle on Facebook. The post read, “To say I’m blessed is an understatement, Not only was god with us, so was a lot of guardian angels!!!!!!! ... I’m so thankful be alive we all 3 are!!”
The trigger was not so much the image of the vehicle, but the words in the post presuming them to be closer to God than others since they survived. As an early stage grieving dad, I did not hear the words to say, “This family is blessed.” It said, “My family is not.”
If we want to see how God approaches blessedness, we need only look to Jesus’ words in what we refer to as his Sermon on the Mount. Every effective sermon has to start strong, and I find it encouraging to see Jesus start this powerful teaching talking about blessedness, more commonly called the Beatitudes. When you read through the list, you find that Jesus says God’s blessing is not on those who are fortunate, but on those who have been dealt misfortune. “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him.”
“God blesses those who mourn.”
“God blesses those who are humble.”
“God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice.”
What Jesus says to me, and what I now know to be true, is I may have thought I was blessed before, but I did not feel God’s true blessing, one where I felt holy and in divine favor, until God was holding me in the darkness of despair, when I was poor and realized my desperate need for him.
Loving God, may I feel your presence today and look to your guiding light in the days that are dark. Amen.
This devotion originally appeared in the August 12 edition of Holston Conference's "Daily Devotionals."
The Rev. Jason Gattis is superintendent of Holston Conference's Smoky Mountain District, based in Alcoa, Tennessee