Updated: Aug 8
What do you think of when you hear the word “blessings?”
Until earlier this year, I almost only thought of blessings as the material things I could see or feel. They were tangible, and I included anything that made me feel happy or made my life easier. I counted my family, friends, clean water, warm blankets, physical protection, and health as a few of my blessings. All of these things are gifts from God, and it is vital that we recognize where our blessings originate.
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom can be no variation nor turning shadow. James 1:17
But as you can see, I was hyper-focused on merely physical blessings. This left me with a couple problems in my thinking:
First, I occasionally wondered if I had done something wrong when things weren’t going my way.
When my life was going well, the jobs were secure, and I had the health and joy in my body to enjoy it all, it was easy to see what I thought God was doing in my life. When it felt like some of the blessings dried up and the pressure was on, I would doubt my faith and wonder what I could do to fix these things. (Which reminds me of ancient civilizations doing all sorts of things to “appease” their gods.) How ridiculous!
Was I out of favor with God because things are not going my way? When I assume that God is angry at me because my circumstances change in a way that is uncomfortable for me is an unhealthy way to think - possibly even dangerous.
(I’m not talking about when I purposely disobeyed God or made poor choices that have natural consequences. Bad life decisions do have repercussions.) But there are plenty of real-life Bible examples of people who loved God and were just minding their own business when disaster struck.
Joseph is the first one who comes to mind. (Check out Jenn’s insightful devotional about his life on YouVersion!) Job, Esther, David, Daniel, Ruth and Naomi are just a few of the many others who experienced this. Their stories are recorded in the Bible to glorify God and teach us about God’s character.
Tough situations will come to those who are following God and to those who are not! Likewise, those who follow God and also those who oppose God can enjoy physical comforts. Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:45
For he makes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust.
Second, I was baffled by the supposed lack of blessings that some people experienced - even the need for necessities such as food or clothing. I once heard someone sing a song in church that was about thanking God for all the things the singer had, such as “eyes to see” and “legs to walk.” It was a little cringey because I wondered what someone who could not see would think of that song. The song sounded like people who didn’t have perfect health, a perfect family, or a perfect life had absolutely nothing to be thankful for. While it’s true that many of us do enjoy sight as gift from God, some don’t - but if they are believers in Jesus Christ, their blessings are actually immeasurable.
It is absolutely true that wonderful things are from God. He created them. But a person can be truly blessed and cherished by God even when those blessings are not physically manifested. I was sad that many things I heard taught in my church only focused on the physical - when we are told to keep our eyes heavenward.
Set your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, our life, is revealed, then you will also be revealed with him in glory. Colossians 3:2
I knew that this verse was true and realized I needed to stop ignoring the eternal gifts given to me by my Savior. I decided to take a few months to discover the riches that I have - that we have - in Jesus. Not just to tack on “salvation” or “Jesus” to my thankful list. But to truly begin to focus on what it means to belong to Jesus. What are these eternal blessings?
My mind was completely blown away as I began reading the Bible and searching for insight into the glory and satisfaction of belonging to Jesus. Anyone, anywhere, in any circumstance can look to Jesus and hold onto these hopes because they are all true.
In fact, I noticed that I was becoming more content and joyful when I focused on these things. Here’s what I did. I read the Bible and looked for statements that I could be thankful for. Each day, I looked for just one and wrote it down. It really changed my focus, and anyone, not matter their circumstance, can find an overwhelming amount of blessings to thank God for!
Here’s a small sample of what I found in the book of Romans. These truths apply to anyone who loves Jesus.
I am thankful that:
-God doesn’t play favorites. (Romans 2:11)
-I have peace with God through Jesus Christ. (Romans 5:1)
-God’s love has been poured out into my heart through the Holy Spirit. (Romans 5:5)
-I’m not a slave to sin anymore. (Romans 6:7)
-I am a slave to righteousness. (Romans 6:18)
-The benefits I reap lead to holiness, and the result is eternal life. (Romans 6:22)
-I’m not in the realm of the flesh but the realm of the Spirit. (Romans 8:9)
-When I share in Jesus’s sufferings, I share in His glory. (Romans 8:17)
-Nothing will be able to separate me from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus, my Lord. (Romans 8:39)
-I can be transformed by the renewing of my mind. (Romans 12:2)
-God will fill me with all joy and peace as I trust in Him. (Romans 15:13)
Just think about even ONE of these statements. Jesus has given us everything, and we are truly blessed people. Let your heart be encouraged and full of peace.
I ask that out of the riches of His glory He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. Then you, being rooted and grounded in love, will have power, together with all the saints, to comprehend the length and width and height and depth of the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:16-19
Do you tend to focus on physical or spiritual blessings?
How do God's promises affect you in your daily life?