I am blessed

Blessed Forever

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? –Romans 8:32

This morning…

I woke up to my husband’s gentle pressure on my hand—his silent good morning. I’m glad to wake up to a new day with you.

I walked with a friend in the pre-dawn darkness, and she celebrated with me as I look forward to a new house.

I had all four of my children home with me; no school today.

This afternoon…

I sat in the sunshine with a twelve-month-old boy and laughed while he threw rocks into the lawn because each toss brought a triumphant grin to his ornery little face.

I sent my oldest daughter off to her last race of the season. She smiled at me before she got onto the bus.

I watched my daughter mow our green grass, inhaling the fresh smell that never gets old and admiring her fine work.

Tonight I’ll go to bed beside the same man I began my day with. I am grateful, and as I settle in for a good night’s sleep, I pray…

Lord, I know my soul you’ll keep. If I die before I wake, I know my Jesus, my soul you’ll take.

I rest secure because of Your grace, and someday I’ll see you face to face.

I rest securely in Your hands, and in all things I trust your plans.

You promised good, though there are trials to endure. So while some moments hold tears, this love is sure.

And in all that is good, all that is bad; all the laughter and the things that are sad,

This I know, of this I am sure: I am blessed, because in You I am secure.

I am blessed

Blessed at All Times, in Every Place

Praise the Lord! I will give thanks to the Lord with all my heart, in the company of the upright and in the assembly.  Great are the works of the Lord; They are studied by all who delight in them. Splendid and majestic is His work. And His righteousness endures forever.  Psalm 111:1-3

forblogThis spring, I stood at the foot of the Grand Tetons in Wyoming, marveling at the ice-capped beauty rising up before me, rugged and shrouded in mist. Worship welled up inside of me as I stood beside that lake, still frozen in May.  I wanted to call out with the psalmist, “Splendid and majestic is His work!”  At that moment, I was overwhelmingly thankful for God’s blessings.

But, other times, it’s been harder for me to be thankful for the blessings of God. I remember one dark day sitting on a hard wooden bench in Africa.  The scenery perfectly matched my sullen mood.  Everything was brown.  Drought had choked every last bit of beauty from that landscape.  The grass was brown.  The dirt was brown.  The huts were made of mud, so they were of course … brown.  The thatched roofs were brown.  And even the leaves of the mango tree in front of me were coated in dust, making them brown. In fact, the only color other than brown in the entire scene was my hostess’ dress – and even it was dirty.  My heart certainly didn’t burst into any psalmist’s praise that day.

But was I any less blessed on the day in Africa than I was on the day in Wyoming? Was God any less deserving of my spontaneous praise when I sat on a wooden bench in a dust-coated village than he was when I stood on a hiking trail admiring the mountains in a national park?

When I am happy, am I more blessed than when I am sad?

That’s a lot of questions, and I think the answer to all of them is “no.” My emotions will go up and down depending on the circumstances around me.  If I see a beautiful mountain, I will feel awe.  If I see a dirty home, I will feel depressed.  If I get a job next week, I’m gonna be happy.  If I lose one, I will despair.

But in every situation, no matter my emotion, God is deserving of my praise. And in every situation, he is pleased when I remember His blessings that He’s showered me with – salvation, fellowship with other Christians, His unfailing love, a home in Heaven.

I am a blessed woman indeed.

I am blessed

Persecution and Blessing

Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake for righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when men cast insults at you, and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely, on account of Me. Rejoice, and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.  Matthew 5:10-12

Here in the United States, we Christians may take a few well-aimed insults. We might be the recipients of a stinging comment or two.  But step into West Africa, and you’ll find some believers who are ostracized for their faith, cut off from their families, made into economic and social outcasts.  Travel a little further into parts of the Middle East, and the penalty for following Christ gets even stiffer: death.  In some places, death would be preferable to long imprisonments in filthy cells, torture, and starvation.

Whether a believer suffers only from someone mocking her or faces an arena of hungry lions, persecution is far from joyful. And to consider a blessing?  Well, I just can’t do it.

And neither could Jesus. Read these verses carefully.  He did not say persecution was a happy event.  He did not say it was a blessing.

The blessing was the heavenly reward, not the persecution itself. God Himself bottles his children’s tears, keeps count of their lashes, winces when they are struck.  And with each blow, He adds to their blessings stored up in Heaven, waiting for them.

So, see that believer there in Asia, laying on the cold stone floors of a prison? God has a blessing waiting for him at the end of his journey.  He’ll step out of his jail cell into Heaven and receive it – a heap of treasure, a blessing from his Father who loves him.

Jesus spoke these words to remind us, to encourage us. If we suffer because we follow Him, we have a great reward in Heaven.  Blessings are often not abundant on this earth.  I’m so glad I’m only here for 70 to 80-some-odd years.  I’ve got an eternity of blessings on the other side.

And I can’t wait to see the pile my truly persecuted siblings get.

I am blessed

I am Blessed: A Joint Post

Don’t be afraid, little flock, because your Father delights to give you the kingdom. – Luke 12:32, HCSB

From Jen:

Ever hear of a comedy of errors? This week—no this month has been a comedy of frustration. Except it wasn’t funny. Our house has sold, and it seems the moment we signed the purchase contract things started falling apart in my formerly perfectly functioning, lovely home. Retaining walls failed. Hail damage—roof needs replaced. Sewage pump failed—water (ew) in the basement. And, most recent, our AC quit. To top it off, on one of my trips to town to get something to ‘fix’ one of these problems, I got pulled over. I haven’t been pulled over in fifteen years!

In the midst of all this, I keep reminding myself how very blessed we are. Great family, beautiful kids, wonderful new home, plenty of food—good food…I’ve got a long list of blessings. But I wondered today when the AC repair guy was here and as I reminded myself yet again that we are blessed, what if all of these things were taken away? Would I still be blessed?

From Susan:

Yes. Why?  Because our Father delights to give us the kingdom.  But it’s a heavenly kingdom he’s bless us with, not an earthly kingdom made up of our possessions.  In fact, the verse right after the one Jen chose make that clear: “Sell your possessions and give to charity; make yourselves purses which do not wear out, an unfailing treasure in heaven, where no thief comes near, nor moth destroys.” Luke12:33 NAS

Like Jen, I also recently sold a house. While we are hunting for a new one, we live in a lovey rent house.  It boasts a working fridge and AC (sorry Jen), plush carpet and running water – far more luxury than most of my friends in West Africa could ever dream of owning.

But while a middle-class American lifestyle is certainly a blessing, it’s not the true blessing Christ is talking about in these verses. The blessing he’s talking about is built up in heaven, where ACs don’t break and sewage pumps never fail.

So I can, without any hint of guilt, say that my West African brothers and sisters in Christ, who live in mud huts with thatched roofs, are every bit as blessed as I am. Their blessing, like mine, will be found in heaven. Their blessing, like mine, doesn’t depend on their possessions.

Like Jen, I am also blessed with a loving husband and great, healthy kids. But does that mean the Christian woman down the street whose husband left her is not blessed?  Or the believing parents who lose a child to cancer? Are they not blessed?  With great tenderness and compassion, I say that even though they hurt with unimaginable pain, they are blessed.  Their treasure, like mine, is found in heaven.  Their treasure, like mine, is the Kingdom of God.

So yes, even if all these things were taken away, I would still be blessed.