“Bless you.” It’s what we say when someone sneezes. It evolved from an idea that sneezes force demons to come out, so by blessing them, we ward off bad spirits. Southerners remark, “Oh, bless your heart,” but we’re really just judging you. And as Christians, we have started acting like blessings are only good things we receive. We use #SoBlessed as the caption on our social media posts that show the world our new car or fancy dinner.
Blessings actually are gifts from God. Sometimes, they look like fancy dinners, and sometimes, they look like having just enough to fill your belly. Sometimes, blessings look more like late nights in the neonatal intensive care unit or the strength you gain after you face a job loss or stand up to your bully. Sometimes, the blessing is the sun coming out from behind the trees, and sometimes, the blessing is the cool rain after a long day at the beach.
Maybe where you are right now is preparing you for the blessing of a new season. Maybe you’re struggling to see the hope because the hard is all you see. The writer of James reminds us to count it all joy when we come upon hard times. What if we looked around and started counting our blessings one by one, then decided to start spreading them around? In this season of Father’s Day and vacations and the Fourth of July, you’re going to see so many people. Some you love and some you struggle with, but all of them are fighting battles you know nothing about.
What if you picked three people every day to pray blessings over? People who are sick and dying or graduating or getting married. What if you prayed silent blessings over the grocery store clerk and the guy who cut you off in traffic? What if you asked God to bless the people you can’t stand as well as your children? What if, before you ask God to bless your food, you asked your waitress if there was anything you could be praying about on her behalf? And what if you chose to pray blessings over your children before you took them to school? What would it look like to start seeking the blessings, living in the blessings and then giving them away? How might the world change, one blessing at a time?
– The Rev. Emily Whiten is the senior pastor at Acworth United Methodist Church. She lives in Acworth with her husband, Jay, and her stepson, Jackson.