Wednesday, August 29, 2007

On Blessings

You have all shared some great thoughts in answer to my question about blessings. I've been thinking about it quite a bit. For a long time, actually.

I began thinking about it back when I was regularly posting to my blessings blog. If you don't know what that was, it was simply a place where I recorded my blessings (almost) daily with the goal of recording 3600 for the year.

As time went on, I realized that many of my blessings were very superficial things. Individual food items made the list more times than I care to count. Stuff that made me happy. Stuff that "worked out" for me. But even as I typed some of those things into the post, I wondered if they were really blessings at all.

Was that brownie really a blessing because I enjoyed it so much? What if I was already full when I ate it? Does enjoying something automatically qualify it as a blessing? In truth, wasn't I taking advantage of the abundance of food God has placed around me? Wasn't it really just self-indulgence?

When Paul and I were buying our first computer, we both spent some time praying first and, individually, we came up with the same amount of money that we were willing to spend. We shopped around once or twice, but we didn't find anything in that price range that met our needs. So we bought a more expensive computer.

I could have walked around and told everybody what a blessing my computer was because now I could e-mail my family and I could shop for deals online. But God, if I dare say so, might just have raised his eyebrow at me and said, "Blessing? I didn't give you that computer. You took it for yourself!"

Paul and I spent some time in prayer after that decision. And it began with our confession that we did not exercise faith when we made the purchase. It wasn't a blessing. It was our greed.

We are blessed, no doubt, to own a computer. But that is not my point.

What I am really mulling over is the lifestyle that we live. By "we" I mean my family, but I think this applies generally to Christians living in this culture.

I wonder how much we have fallen prey to the "I need stuff" mentality without even realizing it. We often refer to material things as blessings, because, I think, we want to express how grateful we are for owning them. We call ourselves "blessed" when we look at our house and our car and when we consider our ability to go to Starbuck's anytime we want, or buy the latest DVD.

And I'm not saying those things aren't blessings... if God really GAVE them to us. But how often do we let God choose to bless us as opposed to just taking things because we can.

And is it really a blessing if the latter is true?

More on this later. Until then, shoot back some more of your great thoughts.



Blogger Jeana said...

This is an excellent post. I have never thought about it that way, but you raise some really good points. I've thought something similar, when people are crazy busy and overcommitted and say, "I know God won't give me more than I can handle." And I think, "Did He give you all that? Or did you take it on yourself?"

On a sidenote, they're misquoting the Bible to begin with. It never says He won't give us more than we can handle, it says He will not allow us to be tempted more than we can bear and WHEN WE ARE he will He will enable us to stand up under the temptation. It is altogether a message of reliance on Him. Not that He will hold back what we can't handle on our own strength, but that He will help us to handle what, on our own, we never could.

Lots to think about! Really good post.

Thu Aug 30, 06:05:00 AM  
Blogger Luisa Perkins said...

Well, sheesh, I missed a lot while I was away.

I have blogged about this very issue before.

I believe a blessing is anything that turns you to God. Anything. If a brownie or a rose or losing a half pound fills you with gratitude for your Heavenly Father's abundance and inspires you to go on and bless someone else, than those things are blessings.

Further, if losing your job or your child or getting sick reminds you of the Source of all your strength and encourages you to deepen your relationship with God, then those things, though they feel like terrible trials, are blessings.

On the other hand, if you allow your perfect skin or health or garden to puff you up and feel better than others, those things are a curse. But they COULD be blessings, if you used your God-given agency to turn things around when you see your folly.

I think we're all too material. Are we using our resources to bless others, or to satisfy our lusts? It's a question I ask myself a lot, but probably not nearly enough.

Just my $0.02.

Thu Aug 30, 02:48:00 PM  
Anonymous mom a said...

Blessings are not limited to material things . . . . though we all seem to have been able to come up with a few of those as examples. The comments about the beautiful environment God has given (and we could never buy or replicate) comes a little closer to what I'm thinking of now. Yes, we ARE blessed, but not just for ourselves. In my business (psychotherapy) I find myself (during and after a given session)
giving thanks for the insight that helps a client unravel a difficult situation . . . the patience to listen to parents whom I would much prefer to report to the police for what they do to their children . . . the wisdom(tact?) to phrase interventions in ways that don't alienate clients or parents who might never return if I said what I really wanted to say.
Hmmm. Gets murkier every time we try to clarify it. Maybe God works in mysterious ways.

Fri Aug 31, 01:07:00 AM  
Blogger Brenda said...

I agree with you about the lifestyle of American Christians. "We're so blessed to live in a country where we have the freedom to worship God." they say. But is it really a blessing?

We're clueless about what it means to be persecuted. (Having people avoid you at school or work is not even close.) Do I have the kind of faith that would take me to church if it meant I could be killed? Am I willing to suffer for the cause of Christ? (And I don't mean sitting still in church past noon.)

My girls and I were talking about this some over the summer. I told them that I couldn't say for certain that I wouldn't deny Christ if their lives were at stake. Peter did. They were surprised at my "lack of faith" until I pointed out that standing silently by while our friends mock and curse and take the Lord's name in vain is the same thing as denying Him. If we won't stand up for Him when our lives aren't at stake, how can we say for sure that we will when they are?

I guess any blessing can be a bad thing if you take it for granted or value it over the One Who blesses.

Sun Sep 02, 11:07:00 PM  

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