I Am Blessed
One of the things you will frequently hear me say is, “Our feelings are not determined by our circumstances, but by what we tell ourselves about our circumstances.” Another of my favorite maxims is, “You can’t grumble and be grateful at the same time.” I believe the lyrics of this anthem amply testify to these truths.
Our lives are tapestries of those green pastures and deserts spoken of in this song. Most of us are probably blessed with more green pastures and still waters than we are the deserts and valley of the shadows of death, but we often take those times of ease and plenty for granted, forgetting to be grateful for the true gifts those times are in our lives. We are caught up short when those desert times come upon us, and the things to which we’ve grown accustomed are nowhere to be found. This is where what we tell ourselves about our situation determines how we will feel going forward.
Coming to the place where we can say, “I am blessed,” in the face of disappointment or disaster is not putting on a Pollyanna attitude that denies reality. Very often in the psalms we will read how the psalmist is facing huge battles, vicious enemies, or other overwhelming struggles, but then the perspective changes as he looks to God. He will own what the problem is, but when he remembers who God is and what He has done over the years—not just personally for that psalmist, but over the generations for His people—the psalmist’s whole countenance changes, his whole tone shifts from one of lament to one of praise and thanksgiving. Like the lyricist here, the psalmist’s words reverberate with the sense that, “I am blessed!”—and this blessing is because of who God is in our lives.
As I write this, I have a friend who is dying of a very painful cancer. From the perspective of most people, her life right now would never be categorized as one that is “blessed.” Indeed, she struggles to keep her spirits up, and stay positive in the light of all the pain and helplessness she is enduring. But the way she strives to do so is by fixing her eyes on the Lord, reminding herself of who He is and of His promises and how faithful He is to them. She affirms His acts of love in her life, and the blessings He sends—whether it is a card or text from a friend, or the sighting of a special bird (she’s really into nature, especially birds), or a verse that comes to mind just when she needs it most.
Like many sufferers she has learned more about the love of God in the midst of her pain than she ever experienced when she was in those green pasture times. It is not the suffering that has caused this—many people experience suffering and become hardened and bitter or completely overcome by despair. No, it is because she is choosing to direct her mind toward God’s goodness and blessings that she is able to endure with victory a trial that will undo someone who fails to look for God’s blessings in the midst of their pain.
The question the sufferer must answer is, “Is God enough?” If all we are left with is God, is He enough for us? Is His presence and love, His goodness and what He chooses to provide enough for us to remain content, even joyful in the face of some of life’s toughest battles? Is HE our true reward—not whatever it is we’ve lost, not the dreams that have gone unfulfilled, not the ways we thought our prayers should have been answered—is God Himself enough for us? If He is, then we are truly blessed beyond measure.
This shift in remembering who God is and what He has promised, even in the face of our tremendous struggles, not only profoundly changes how we feel in the midst of our trials, it is a testimony that the world around us needs to hear and witness. The mindset of the world is often that if God is good why would He let bad things happen to good people? But when they see that even in our pain and heartache we are trusting God’s goodness and love, they begin to reevaluate their premise. Alistair Begg said, “In the midst of that cultural setting the believer will stand out as a light in a dark place by displaying a thankful heart; an unfailing awareness of God’s mercy must yield in our lives the fruit of thankfulness.” Is this attitude what the world around sees in us?
We’ve also seen in the Scriptures that those who occupy the heavenlies also take note of what goes on here on earth, and how we handle both prosperity and want. The book of Job describes how God won some very stellar props by the fact that while Job suffered he did not “curse God and die,” as his wife suggested, rather held on and worshiped God. The fact that we still cling in faith to the fact of the goodness of God in the face of trials that we cannot begin to understand, is a testimony to not only earthly witnesses but spiritual ones, as well. When we can say with confidence, even in the face of sorrow, that we are blessed because of God’s presence in our lives, God receives the praise of those heavenly beings, and even puts the agents of the enemy on notice that God knows how to protect His children’s spirits in the midst of the fierce spiritual and physical onslaughts they face.
What about you? When you face your troubles, are you able to confidently, even joyfully proclaim, “I am blessed”? Start today by counting your blessings, beginning with the Lord’s presence in your life!