At the beginning of the fall, I had fun scrolling through social media and looking at the various pictures, which mostly included end of summer vacations and shots of enthusiastic kids ready to begin the school year. There was an array of happy, sun-kissed faces, kids who seemed excited about the year ahead, and parents who assumingly stood behind the camera relishing in pride and joy. Attached to these pictures included one comment after the other with the hashtag: #blessed.
My kid’s first-day-of-school photos this year included a blurry side-face of one high schooler as she whizzed by me, annoyed that I was even attempting to snap a photo, a shot of a teenager rolling his eyes for the camera, which I actually considered posting but only for a second because the shot was followed with “I hope that’s not being posted anywhere,” and a picture of the back of my youngest’s head, which she offered with a giggle: “Mom, you can post that one.”
As we enter this Thanksgiving season, I’ve found myself pondering the word “blessed.” I use it often, I hear it often, but what does the word actually mean? We often pray for our families and ministries to be blessed, and we tag the word to beautiful vacations, smiling faces, and all that we proudly show off as good in our lives. But is this the extent of what it truly means to be blessed by God?
The Essence of Blessings
The word blessed has a far deeper meaning than the way we typically use it as believers. The most common misunderstanding is that blessings from God are merely the good things we receive from Him—healthy children, great schools, nice vacations, etc. We should be grateful for these things that are indeed blessings, but to have good things is not the essence of what it means to be blessed. It merely scratches the surface. More important than having possessions we can touch and see is having Jesus. God Himself is the essence of our blessings.
Psalm 73:26 says, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” We are truly blessed when we can call ourselves children of God. We are blessed when we can say with confidence that He alone is the source of our satisfaction. We are blessed when our love and commitment to Jesus weighs more heavily on our hearts than the people and things God has given us. We are blessed when our relationship with Him reaches every corner of our existence. The beatitudes say that those who are blessed are not the ones with bountiful provisions, but those whose lives are marked as followers of Christ.
When we pray, then, for God to bless our children and to bless our work, we are asking God for deeper growth with Him in the hearts of our children and in the work to which He has called us. What we often mean when we pray this, however, is that we want God to keep bad things from happening to our kids and to remove any difficulty from our path moving forward. If we truly want to be showered with God’s blessings, we are asking to be overwhelmed with more of Jesus, and more of Jesus means more trust in His plans for our lives. It means a willingness to open our hearts to His work in and through the lives of our children. And it means putting our best laid plans at the foot of the cross knowing that He will direct us with a loving and merciful hand.
The Source of Our Blessings
Having Jesus is the essence of what it means to be blessed, but He is also the source of these blessings. When we sing the doxology, we boldly proclaim praise to God from whom ALL blessings flow. And because He is the source of every blessing, we can consider ourselves blessed in times of rejoicing and in times of trouble.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 reminds believers to give thanks in all circumstances. And why? Because Jesus, who is the source of every blessing, can use even our trials as venues to draw us closer to Himself, and to be closer to Jesus is to be blessed. Times of refreshment are times to give thanks for God’s rich blessings. These times of reprieve remind us of our hope—that one day all things will be fully restored. But times of suffering are also times to give thanks for God’s rich blessings. Our trials can be pathways to God, and in them we are pointed to the only One who can provide peace, healing, and restoration. We are blessed because our union with Christ means that everything the Father has given to the Son, he has also given to us, and that provision is all we need in times of plenty and in times of want.
In this season of Thanksgiving, may we remember to give thanks in each and every circumstance the Lord has put before us, and as we offer thanks around our tables, may our hearts overflow with gratitude for the gift of Jesus—the only reason we can truly know what it is to be #blessed.
About the Author:
Katie is wife to Chris, a PCA pastor at Trinity church in Kirkwood, MO, and together they have three children, Ella (15), J-Rod (13), and Lily (9). Katie works as the music director at Trinity and serves on the Women’s Ministry Committee. She also spends much of her time writing, teaching piano, leading women’s Bible studies, and speaking to women’s groups about the joy she has found in Christ. Katie serves on the board of Covenant College, where she graduated with a BA in English Education, and is currently pursuing her Masters of Arts in Theology from Covenant Seminary in St. Louis. For more information, as well as various blog entries, you can visit her website at www.katiepolski.com.