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 our understanding of what it means to be blessed is significantly righted 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.
- When we have come to terms with our spiritual poverty, we become rich in him with all the blessings of his kingdom.
- When we have mourned the tragedy of our rebellion and sin, we see the beauty of the Cross and rest, rescued, in its security.
- When we have taken ourselves off center stage of our lives, we make Him great in our walk and our talk and become co-heirs with Jesus.
- When we have experienced a hunger and a thirst for righteousness, we know there is no satisfaction in this world that will content us, only he is enough and more than enough.
- When we have been merciful, we reflect delight in the mercy we have received and will continue to receive until we see him in glory.
- When our hearts have adopted a toxic cleanse routine, clearing out all waste and distraction and foolishness, we will discover that we have a wide open view of him.
- When our wartorn hearts are invaded by a peace that has no likeness in this world, we have become children of God.
- When we have endured slander and persecution, we have become united with Christ in his suffering, able to see the joy set before him, knowing it is coming to us as well.
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, remind-me-this-is-not-my-home 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, and comfort. (Phil. 4:11b-13)
Corrie ten Boom, who spent her tender years in a Nazi concentration camp, learned this, too. She is credited with the following quotes:
“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.”
No matter how the world filters life, the sinner whose eyes have been given sight sees clearly past the blurred and shifting images, the once-no-mercy-now-mercy is drenched with mercy dew, the birthed church inhales divine air and saintly lifeblood flows through her veins.
The vain and posturing display put on by false religions of groupthink and creature-worshiping rebels may, as Charles Spurgeon says, “reel to and fro like a drunken man but the Rock of Ages stands secure.”
The world cannot dislodge our footing in Christ. He is steadfast and so are his promises, more than anything we could find from this present vapid and groundless age. He has said he will complete the work he has begun in us.
Go and walk along the path of Christ as one blessed.