The thought was sparked today at church when my pastor read an old familiar bit of scripture. 1 Chronicles 4:9-11 Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, "I gave birth to him in pain." 10 Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, "Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain." And God granted his request. I kind of laughed when I saw this. Primarily because when I worked at the Christian book center "The Prayer of Jabez" was the hot selling item. Jabez was on fire people wanted to be blessed and have their territory enlarged YEAH!!!! I have learned to redefine many of the terms that were common to me. Some of the bad turned good, good turned "bad" and so on and so forth. So these are some of them. Blessed I figure it would be good to do this term first. Blessing is a word that so many people throw around in the Christian faith, and so much of it is wrong… It frustrates me. I do believe that God wants to bless us, and that I am blessed in my life. But it seems that many people ascribe to one strict definition of what that may mean. I believe it can mean many things at many different times. For example:
- Being blessed can mean blessed materially. God has blessed me with a roof over my head. God has given me amazing friends whom I love and am loved by. God has given me a source of income. I pray for blessing and God continues to pour out material wealth, happiness and health. This truly is a blessed lifestyle.
- Being blessed can be a life of joy and contentment. God has blessed me with joy in a time when everything else is falling down around me. My friends have left me, My family has disowned me, I am on the brink of being bankrupt, the only one who believes in me is my wife. But still I have this peace that I cannot explain, but I know can only be God. I am truly blessed.
- Being blessed can be a life of destitution. God has blessed me when I have nothing. Everyday I am spit upon and beaten for His name but I will never stop proclaiming it. They can take away my health but my love for God remains and my knowledge that He loves me keep going. I am a servant of many, I am what Jesus spoke of when He spoke of the least of these. Surely no one would say I'm blessed… no one except God.
See when we think of the term blessing I believe our minds automatically go to financial gain. Explaining the Jabez epidemic of the early 2000's. Money is good and all but it is not the source of a blessed life by any means. True blessing can often come through hardship and pain when all you can do is rely on God to be your everything because you have nothing to give anyone. So maybe a blessed like looks like one of financial gain… but maybe a blessed life looks completely different from that all together. Loneliness Being lonely sucks. Or so I thought, I despised the idea of being alone. It seemed to have such a negative conotation to it. After breaking up with Grace I was sad and lonely. I just wanted to feel special, to feel loveable. I heard a quote in a sermon series that changed my perspective on loneliness. "Lonely people experience God in a way that only the lonely can." Wow, I had never thought of it in that way but it made PERFECT sense. When I was lonely and depressed I still had to do schoolwork, youth ministry, worship, my music all that stuff still had to go on. I had NO STRENGTH to do it. I didn't even want to get out of bed most days. They only way I could do it was by fully relying on God. He had to be my everything because I had nothing. I literally said so many times "I have nothing more to give… I'm done." But I kept being able to give, somehow I kept having the strength and that was because I had to allow God to work through me, and I could. My pride wasn't in the way… why because I had no reason to be prideful… See in the midst of depression when you don't feel your worth anything you begin to realize how little and helpless you really are. Once your pride is aside God is free to work in your life and give you the strength. So where once I prayed "God please let me happy at least one day." my prayer changed to "Well if this is what you need to do to teach me than keep it coming." Of course this is a frightening prayer to pray because… what if he does… keep it coming. Well… It is going to hurt but what good things in life don't come through much pain and heartache. I can't think of many. Loneliness, though admittedly not very fun, is sometimes a season of life that God uses to bring you too him when you may have strayed away. Sadness Sadness is not a bad word. It often seems as if it is among Christians. We are afraid to just admit that we are lost and scared sometimes. For example: last year I literally doubted whether God loved me, or anyone else for that matter. For those of you who know me, that is an unusual thing for me to say. I am all about the Love of God for others and my own. No longer do I mind admitting that. This doubt that I had sent me into a month or two long depression. A very dark time in my life. Again at this time I was doing youth ministry, school, music all the time hurting inside and not knowing what was going on. And again God strengthened me through it all. I don't know why we fear sadness, and being scared, and crying. Jesus himself cried numberous times, Jesus was overcome with fear and doubt and heartache for those He loved. Jesus was scared before the cross. It is ok, I figure if Jesus can do it I can do it. You don't need to fear sadness, grieving the loss of a loved one or breaking up with with someone you loved. It is ok to grieve and be hurt. It is ok to be angry with God. He is big He can take it. Just talk to Him about it, don't hold back, let it all out. Once it gets out in the open the healing process can begin. It doesn't end at sadness there is hope.