Blessed

by Susie Crosby

adj: enjoying happiness; favored, privileged, fortunate

“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope…” Matthew 5:3 MSG

Religious-sounding words make me cringe sometimes. Maybe it’s because they get overused, or can seem insincere. Or maybe it’s because I haven’t understood their true meaning.

Blessed has been one of these awkward words for me.

“Bless you.”

“God bless.”

“Blessings!”

Everything in me feels weird when I say or hear or read words like this. I can’t help it.

Years ago, I impulsively bought a beautifully framed wooded sign that states: “We are so blessed.” It fits beautifully above our dining room mirror and works with the decor. But I can’t look at it without an uncomfortable feeling–wondering if it comes across as prideful or self-righteous or possibly inauthentic to people who visit.

But Jesus said, Blessed.” Many times, in the Beatitudes part of the Sermon on the Mount recorded in Matthew. The upside-down truths that He shared that day surprised the crowd and brought them to cheers. They make me want to know more about what Jesus meant when He used this word.

When Jesus spoke on that hillside, He said we are blessed when we’re at the end of our rope, blessed when we’ve lost what is most dear to us, blessed when we are humbled, blessed when we have worked up a good appetite for God, blessed when we care for others, blessed when our hearts are pure, blessed when we work for peace, and blessed when we are left out and lied about–mistreated for doing what is right.

When Jesus calls us blessed in the midst of suffering or working or trying to do good, it doesn’t sound contrived or fake. And it doesn’t sound like pride. It sounds like he’s giving us something we desperately need but cannot earn.

Beatitude: a feeling or state of well-being and contentment; blissfulness, gladness, joy.

Blessed.

Maybe it means taken care of. Not simply happy or lucky, but attended to and held close by God Himself–our loving Father, by Jesus–our savior and friend, and by the Holy Spirit–our strength and comfort.

Every Sunday at the end of the church service, our pastor prays this blessing over us that God gave Moses and Aaron to bless the Israelites:

The Lord bless you and keep you;

The Lord make his face shine on you

And be gracious to you;

The Lord turn his face toward you

And give you peace.

Numbers 6:24-26 NIV

If it means that God will keep us, make his face shine on us, be gracious to us, turn his attention to us, and give us his peace; then maybe “bless you,” isn’t such an awkward thing to say after all.

Sit with Jesus on your own hillside for a moment. If you are at the end of your rope, look into His eyes. Invite Him in. Let Him bless you with His attention, His peace, His strength, and His grace for the struggle you face. He sees you, He knows you, and He will honor and take precious care of your heart for Him.

This article was brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

susie crosby

About the author: Susie is a grateful mom of two (almost) grown boys who currently live and go to school in Honolulu, Hawaii. She and her husband live in a seaside town in the Puget Sound region called Mukilteo. They love to hike and kayak, they are huge Seattle sports fans, and they mostly love hanging out at home with their little dog Koko. Susie teaches P.E., Art, Technology, and Music at an all-kindergarten school which keeps her busy full time. Her passion and joy is sharing encouraging words with the people she loves. She is an active blogger and speaker, and she is the author of Just One Word: 90 Devotions to Invite Jesus In. She is always on the lookout for fun coffee shops, inspiring books, remote beaches, and farmers’ markets. Connect with Susie at www.susiecrosby.com.

Join the conversation: How has God blessed you recently?

Go to Your Happy Place

by Rhonda Rhea

Set your minds on what is above, not on what is on the earth. Colossians 3:2, HCSB

I hate it when I’ve been cleaning the house all day long, and then realize it’s only been fifteen minutes.

I’ll admit, cleaning is not my happy place. Of course, I had five kids in seven years and “clean” has always been a bit…well…relative. Mostly because it would somewhat depend on which relative was doing the cleaning. Not that we allowed food in the kids’ rooms or anything [clearing throat], but I do remember having to say to a teen at least once, “Son. You have to clean your room. We’re out of spoons.”

When my three boys were teenagers, they shared a bathroom that they “cleaned” themselves. Three. Teenage. Boys. Every once in a while, I would go in to check on it. I would stare for a few minutes, fighting back hyperventilation. Then I’d think: Yeah, maybe a controlled burn. Then I would quickly exit and head to the kitchen for sanctuary with a really strong pot of coffee.

Ah, the coffee pot. Anytime someone tells me to go to my happy place, I still instinctively head there. And who doesn’t want a happy place?

Happy places might actually be rather relative too. When Jesus began His Sermon on the Mount, the first thing He taught was the list of Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12). Twelve beautiful “blesseds.”

The Greek word translated “blessed” is makarios, which means contented, blissful…happy. But when we look at the list, we see the very first two are poor in spirit and mournful. His list takes us all the way to “persecuted.” Sounds like anywhere but a happy place.

What Jesus was speaking was revolutionary. It changed the way people saw and understood happiness. People who don’t follow Christ think happiness means doing whatever they want, whenever they want to do it. They think it means having money and fame and power. Maybe even a clean house and a full pot of coffee. But Jesus taught that we won’t find happiness there. If we want “blessedness”—happiness—we need to think differently than the world does. We need to think like Jesus does. It means engaging an entirely different mindset.

Paul said, “So if you have been raised with the Messiah, seek what is above, where the Messiah is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on what is above, not on what is on the earth,” (Colossians 3:1-2, HCSB).

Our happy place? It’s where Jesus is. Not where circumstances are perfect and clean and caffeinated. That Greek word “makarios” speaks of being happy in a way that doesn’t depend on our situation. That makes sense, since our ability to be truly satisfied comes as we understand that our soul is impoverished apart from the righteousness we have in Christ, and we mourn our sin—the first two Beatitudes. Knowing Jesus makes us look at every one of those Beatitudes in a different light.

Lord, help us set our minds on you and think differently than the world does. Show us every place pride and worldliness has crept into our thinking and behavior. Make us look more like You. May we experience happiness exactly the way You’ve designed it, all for Your glory.

Living His way. I’ve learned that’s the only truly happy place.

And on a side note, I also learned when my kids were teens that before I took on their bathroom, I should make sure I had plenty of coffee. Also all my immunizations.

This article has been brought to you by the Advanced Writers and Speakers Association (AWSA).

rhonda rhea

About the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and an award-winning humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLifeLeading HeartsThe Pathway and many more. She is the author of 17 books, including the Fix-Her-Upper books, co-authored with Beth Duewel, and the hilarious novels, Turtles in the Road and Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated, both co-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea.

Off-Script & Over-Caffeinated: A Novel by [Rhea, Kaley, Rhea, Rhonda]

Rhonda and Kaley have a new novel, Off-Script and Over-Caffeinated. When the Heartcast Channel Movie division announces they’ll briefly be allowing submissions for new Christmas movies, Harlow finds herself paired with a reluctant co-star. Jack Bentley may be the biggest Heartcast Original Movie name in the business, but he is anything but formulaic.

Rhonda lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: Where is your happy place?