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#Blessed May Not Mean What You Think

Farsai Chaikulngamdee on Unsplash

Search #blessed on Instagram, and you will find more than 100 million posts. The hashtag highlights pictures of beautiful places, toned bodies, new babies, graduations, successes, and abundance. Scrolling down, you’ll see recent business startups, wonderful technology, new marriages, and fancy cars.

All of these are good things, gifts given to humanity by a loving God. But the hashtag seems to say this is the only way God blesses us—by giving us obviously good things. Have we defined the blessed life as one of abundance and power, popularity and success?

Imagine, instead, opening your Instagram feed and reading a story about a woman who has just lost her job. In her post she wonders how she’ll cover her next mortgage payment, how she’ll get school supplies for her children, and how she’ll pay for the repair her car desperately needs.

What should her hashtag be? #notblessed?

Or what about a post by a mother whose child lives with a myriad of birth-related problems? Her most recent status talks about physical suffering, learning disabilities, and the independent life her child will never have.

Her hashtag? #cursed?

#Blessed According to Jesus

In Luke 6:20–22, Jesus describes a life of blessing that is, at the very least, countercultural:

Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.

Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied.

Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.

Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man!

As we read Jesus’s description, we notice several things. First, the blessing he describes isn’t shallow, passing, or temporary. It’s a deep, enduring sense of satisfaction. This isn’t the good feeling that warms us for a moment and then fades. This is a rooted, deep-in-your-gut joy that doesn’t shift with circumstances.

A picture of the blessed life is also found in Psalm 1. Here, the psalmist describes the blessed person as one who delights in the law of the Lord, meditating on it consistently. He is like a tree near water whose leaves don’t wither in drought. His blessing endures despite circumstances. And Ephesians 1:3 tells us that God “has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms.”

True blessings are anything but temporary.

Upside-Down Blessing

So who are the recipients of this kind of blessing? According to Jesus, this kind of blessing comes not to those who are rich, powerful, successful, and popular. Rather, it comes to those who endure suffering.

In Jesus’s upside-down kingdom, these people know an enduring joy and blessing that doesn’t dwindle as their situation changes. There is blessing that comes when you are powerless, for only then can you know the wealth and power of the coming kingdom. There is blessing when you are needy, for only then will you be satisfied with Jesus himself. There is blessing when you grieve about the brokenness and sin in the world, for only then will you laugh later when Jesus sets it right. Blessed are you now if you are excluded because of your connection to Jesus. That exclusion will lead to greater reward.

Unlike the fleeting happiness brought by sparkling circumstances and popularity, the conditions of neediness and dependency on God are the real places of blessing in his kingdom. Why? Because these things don’t change with our circumstances. In fact, when we are weak, needy, grieving, or excluded because of Christ, the joy we have in Jesus somehow grows stronger.

You Are #Blessed

And this is good news for everyone who belongs to Christ. Though we may never get tickets to that concert or a reservation for dinner at that restaurant, we have a place in Christ’s kingdom. Yes, our place at his table will inevitably come with suffering of many kinds (Rom. 8:17), but it will also come with greater blessing than we can imagine.

As believers, we should rethink our metaphorical and literal hashtags. Instead of just pushing through or trying to ignore suffering, Jesus is encouraging us to cherish it—not because grieving is easy or because powerlessness is pleasant, but because these conditions make us more aware of our need for him. As Corrie ten Boom wrote, “You can never learn that Christ is all you need, until Christ is all you have.”

Are you in a place of weakness, grief, or exclusion because of Christ? Hear his words of blessing over you: Yours is the kingdom of God, you will be satisfied, you will laugh, and great is your reward in heaven. You will be #blessed.

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