In my region, we’re recovering from massive floods precipitated by Hurricane Harvey. On my block alone, 18 of the 29 houses took on water. The devastation is unimaginable.
My family’s home didn’t flood. When the rain finally stopped falling, people started asking how we were. My initial thought was to say, “We got really lucky.” Of course, I don’t believe in luck, so this wasn’t accurate. My next thought was to say, “We’re really blessed.” This gave me pause, as well. I was saying we were blessed because our house remained safe from the floods.
What if we had taken on water? Would we no longer have been blessed? I probably would have found myself making similar comments to those made by my neighbors: “The house is damaged, but we’re blessed because our family is safe.” What if my family wasn’t okay, though? What would I have said then?
I was determining if I was blessed based on the circumstances around me. All I had to do was crack open my Bible to see that our circumstances don’t indicate if we are or aren’t blessed.
What it means to be blessed
Though the Bible sometimes refers to material things when it speaks of blessings (in Deuteronomy 28, for example), more often than not it is referring to spiritual things. Therefore, escaping a disaster does not, in and of itself, indicate you are favored by God. Likewise, getting harmed in a disaster doesn’t indicate you are cursed by God.
According to the Bible, we are blessed because:
- Jesus took on himself the consequences of our sin (Galatians 3:13).
- God forgives us because of Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross (Romans 4:6-9).
- We have not seen and yet have believed (John 20:29).
- We’ve been given every spiritual blessing in Christ (Ephesians 1:3).
- We’ve persevered under trial (James 1:12, 5:11).
- In spite of present difficulties, we have salvation and the promise of the coming kingdom (Matthew 5:3-10).
- We will someday inhabit a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21-22).
All of these passages speak of blessings, but none of them reference physical health, material possessions, or ideal circumstances. Once we understand this, we can respond like Job in the face of hardship:
“The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21b
What’s particularly difficult for us to understand is that hardships often usher great blessings into our lives. When we face difficulties—illness, job loss, the passing of loved ones, strained relationships, natural disasters, etc.—we seek answers and consolation in the presence of God. When we seek Him in these difficult times, we find Him and some of His greatest blessings: deep love, strong faith, and intimacy with Him.
The answer to this post’s title is a resounding “no.” Hardships don’t indicate that we aren’t blessed. In fact, they are something we should expect to happen because the Bible tells us that we will experience them (John 16:33). Moreover, if we turn to God in them, then we may find ourselves experiencing the greatest blessings imaginable.
Though this is encouraging, it is still difficult to face hardships. If you’re facing something difficult, please comment about it below or send me an email. I’d be happy to pray for you!
Had you ever considered what it means to be blessed? How do you remain focused on God and His goodness in the midst of trials?
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