We often greet one another with ‘Blessings’ on special occasions and hear people say, “I received the promotion that I’ve been waiting for… I feel so blessed!” or “We just bought the home of our dreams – we’re incredibly blessed!” or “We’re blessed to live in a country of such safety, freedom, and opportunity…” and the list goes on.
But what happens when life presents you with not so ‘blessed’ circumstances? When a child is born with a disorder, leaving his parents devastated, broken, and uncertain about the future? A family’s sole breadwinner loses his job or is stricken with an illness that incapacitates – are these no longer considered blessed?
Why do we often associate being blessed with positive circumstances, wealth, comfort, and the absence of problems? I believe it’s because many of us have a very short-term and shallow view of what it means to be blessed.
So, let’s strip these foreign-sounding words of their extravagance and take a closer look at what a blessing is and isn’t. Are we all blessed or is it only for the privileged?
Jesus in His Sermon on the Mount, begins with a most incredible statement – ‘The poor are the blessed ones!’ (Matthew 5:3). Those who are described as blessed in His sermon are hungry, pure in spirit, merciful, humble, peace-making, and suffered for His sake. This begs the question – what does it mean to be blessed?
Almost every Jewish prayer, excluding the Shema, starts with the words ‘Baruch Ata Adonai’ ‘…ברוך אתה יי’, which means ‘Blessed are You, our Lord.’ The idea is not to bless objects and people, in our usual Christian sense of the word, but to bless the Lord, with the understanding that we’re focusing on Him as the Source of ALL blessings.
As the rabbi in Fiddler on the Roof said, “There truly is a blessing for everything.” In the Hebraic tradition, it’s common to acknowledge them daily, and in all circumstances.
For an idea this common, it’s astounding how its true power has been overlooked. Because, to bless and be blessed is a fundamental part of our relationship with God as well as relationships with other people.
In Chinese culture, the character ‘福’ (blessing) has been loved and embraced through the ages. It takes dominance as a decoration in many homes, businesses, and cities as the Chinese New Year festive period approaches every year.
Interestingly, ‘Fu’ comprises four characters, and is an iconographic record of the original blessedness of man preserved beautifully in this Chinese character.
Blessedness is one man (referring to Adam, the representative head of the human race) in the garden/field with God (Genesis 2). How blessed are we to have Jesus, the last Adam in the garden of our hearts.
God is the origin and source of all blessings. Only when we acknowledge the greater Blesser can we be truly blessed in all circumstances. A truly humble and grateful heart expresses gratitude to God in praise and worship, and in turn shares this goodness and demonstrates it towards others. It will feel blessed when it blesses!
But that’s not all. The Bible teaches us that the more we bless, the more we ourselves will be blessed in return. Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).
As you celebrate the upcoming Chinese New Year with family and friends, here’s how you can bless them beyond a traditional red packet:
- Speak a word of prophecy or encouragement;
- Ask God to bless them;
- Repeat God’s promises over someone’s life;
- Impart God’s spiritual gifts;
- Be a blessing by putting God’s love into action and serving one another.
Here’s to a Blessed New Year!