As I’m changing out my fall-themed coffee mugs for those reflecting the Christmas and winter season ahead, I work around the single autumnal-themed coffee cup kept in the cupboard year-round. It is not creative in shape or size, but amidst a background of rust-and-yellow-leaves and fanciful flourishes the word BLESSED scrolls across the front of the mug three times. Once for each Person in the Trinity, I think to myself.
Blessed – by the love and guidance of the Father.
Blessed – by the Life-instilling, reconciled-with-God work of the Son.
Blessed – by the indwelling Presence and daily ministry of the Holy Spirit in my life.
That coffee cup is a visual a reminder of this truth – a truth that needs constant reinforcement as I go about the inroads and outroads of my daily life.
Merriamwebster.com shares general definitions of the word, separating out the category of “religion”: venerated, hallowed, beatific. The rest of the descriptions include “of or enjoying happiness; bringing pleasure, contentment, or good fortune.” Vocabulary.com includes the context, “highly favored or fortunate (as e.g. by divine grace); if you say you’ve been blessed, you feel lucky to have something—health, love, fame, fortune, talent, etc.
Feeling lucky to have something; enjoying happiness or contentment: while not necessarily inaccurate, these are perceptions that can be stripped from us like sheets from a bed. Perception and feeling are as passing as are shadows with the movement of the sun…so we find the truest clue of the word’s meaning within the parenthesis, those three little words: by divine grace.
“Blessed” is not in celebration of what we feel, things that can be unceremoniously removed, not “livin’ the life,” “rolling with the good times” or even experiencing a temporary 14-er height of ecstacy in God’s Presence.
It is a truth about us which He has created and sustained. I believe we are to tenaciously and persistently seek, walk, live, and breathe in the amazing awareness that He has made us something we were not, and instilled upon us His favor, extended His divine grace into every fiber of our being.
God blessed Creation in Gen. 1:19-22, transforming what was “formless and void” into what was His sovereignty and creativity actively manifested and grand, spectacular and awe-inspiring; He blessed the creation of Man, male and female, in Gen. 1:27-28; and “of dust from the ground” (Gen. 2:7) completed the physical creation of Man, “made in Our Image, according to Our likeness” (Gen. 1:26).
Likewise, He takes those formless and void areas of our lives, the areas which have been reduced to dust, and blows the breath of Life into them, that they may live.
Paul greeted the saints at Ephesus by saying, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him. In love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.” (Eph 1:3-6)
Blessed, indeed…so that we, like, Paul, may proclaim “we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.” (2 Cor. 4:8-10).
There is much in this world that afflicts, perplexes, and persecutes. Because we are blessed, the abundant life of Jesus is ours to embrace as well as release to others, to strengthen us and provide the breath of life to those around us.