Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The Unspoken Implications of What We Say

Recently I heard someone talk about a pleasant surprise she had experienced. She was making a large purchase and discovered when she was about to settle the transaction that a significant discount would be applied to her purchase. She said it was a blessing. I wanted to say “No, that is not a blessing. It is good fortune, but hardly a blessing.”

Some Christians attach the word “blessing” to capitalistic, materialistic, self-promoting ventures. I do believe we are blessed, but not when we get a bigger house, a better deal, or an award. We are fortunate to receive such things, but not blessed.

If we call these fortunate events a blessing, then what do we call it when our house is foreclosed, when the car repair costs more than we expected or when we are passed over for a promotion? Do we say that God is cursing us? That God does not find favor with us?

The other expression that carries the same weight is “It’s a God thing,” as if God really cares that we got a better interest rate than expected on the car loan for our new Lexus. God is not Tinkerbell, or Santa Claus, or a genie who grants our wishes. I think most of us know this, but we still debase who God is through our choice of words and the weight they carry.

I had the privilege of hearing someone talk about the way her faith had grown through the years. She used the word “blessing” but not to describe some fortunate turn of events. Instead she said that although her first husband had been an alcoholic, there was blessing in her circumstances because she learned to cling to God through the difficulty. Years later, she says that had she not had the struggle of that painful marriage, she would not have the faith she has today.

I’ve heard similar stories from cancer patients, from those who are financially destitute and from people who have suffered in other ways. I don’t think God causes these difficult events of life. I don’t believe the unexplainable and unexpected pain of life is a barometer of God’s favor.

What I know is that my faith has to be like the roots of a tree, firm and grounded in the heart of Christ. Seasons change, storms blow hard and break us open, sun shines and life takes fortunate turns. I’m no less blessed in the storms than I am in the sunshine.  It is not the presents of God that bless me, but the presence of God. To be content with who God is—that is a blessing for me and a blessing for God.

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