Monday, March 31, 2014

Blessings, Blessed, Benevolent

#blessed. I am blessed. God is good. God has blessed me. #godisgood

All these are statements that often appear on people's posts in social media. They are all true. Yet lately I have been becoming more aware and sensitive to my own use of them.

What does it mean to be blessed? Often our blessings or things that define God's goodness come at the expense of another's loss. It can be as trivial as our favourite sports team winning or something as wonderful as the birth of a new child. What about the person whose team lost against yours? Or the couple that cannot have children?  I could go on with examples.

We are very quick to praise God's goodness and declare God's blessings in our lives when great things happen and when things are going well. What about when things aren't going so well? 

I have been struggling through the book of Job lately. Sometimes when I read it, I don't get the best view of God, because it seems he is simply using Job to prove a point to Satan. There's much more to the story I know, but sometimes I come away feeling as though God is cruel and impersonal and out to get me. I don't actually think this is accurate however, but there is a deep sense within me that believes this. I have been asking God to rewrite who He is on my heart.. at a deeper level than my thinking at an intellectual level.

Job's response to his wife when she wants him to curse God and die was "Shall we indeed accept good from God and not accept adversity?" (Job 2:10). I am often quick to read this and agree and yet I struggle to live out its truth in my own life. 

Right now I'm not in the easiest place in life. Yes there are good things in it, but there's also really hard things. Acknowledging the good (time with my mom, etc) doesn't make the hard things go away however, so I have to do something with those things.

So.. I am counting myself blessed.

I am blessed because the Canucks keep losing (okay I had to throw that in there.. ha!)

I am blessed because I'm in a place where daily I am faced with the reality of death and pain.

I am blessed to walk with someone as they live their final days. 

I am blessed because I have days where I feel as though I lack purpose.

I am blessed for having had past loss in my life.

I am blessed being in a waiting period with no set timeline.

I am blessed to walk through anticipatory grief.

And in all these things, not in spite of, but rather IN them, God is good. (and I have to remember that my understanding of the meaning of "good" only displays a small reality of what that actually means in God's terms).

In all these things, and more, I am blessed, because in every moment of every day, there is an invitation to know God and enter into His presence. There is an invitation to be transformed through the process of this life I am living. There is an invitation to be still and know God.

Some of the ways God has been inviting me into His presence through these blessings of late have largely revolved around creation. I have always loved being outside and marveled at God's attributes reflected in creation, but the more I step back in wonder at it, the more profound it becomes.  There are also moments were I simply need to pause and breathe deeply in awareness of God's presence with me. Or in reading certain passages of Scripture, realizing that God doesn't simply watch me in pain, but he weeps with me. These are just a few small examples of ways God has been inviting me to himself in these ways of late.

The other evening I was feeling particularly sad and disheartened. I noticed the light outside had changed and went to look out the window. Directly outside it was pouring rain.. like torrential downpours. Yet through the rain and just behind a sheer layer of cloud, the sun was shining as it was setting. The glow it cast on the rain was absolutely breathtaking. Some of the clouds parted, revealing blue sky and glorious rays of sun shooting out of the clouds. All this through the rain. It was such a beautiful picture for me of the beauty in my pain and the complexity and wonder of it. It was a wonderful invitation from God.

I hesitated writing this post although it has been mulling in my mind for quite some time, because it sounds a bit negative to list blessings in such a way. But if I acknowledge God's blessings and goodness for the things that bring me pleasure in life and which I deem "good", it is important to recognize that God's blessing and goodness extend far beyond those into the uncomfortable, painful areas as well.

And by no means I am saying that God delights in seeing us in pain or experience loss, nor do I delight in it, but I want to respond in gratitude that God is fully present in each of these things and there is an invitation from God to go deeper with him.

So, as the old hymn suggests, let's count our blessings... but let's not forget to see how God is blessing us in the unlikely places as well.