Have you ever asked God to bless you? Have you every prayed for God to bless someone else? It seems like a simple enough request. It seems like a reasonable prayer and we see it often throughout the bible. In the New Testament, when reading letters from one of the Apostles towards a body of believers, they speak of many blessings. God wants to bless us. We desire to be blessed. We should be blessed; we should feel blessed. Yet the writer of Psalm 67 points out something about these blessings that we should always be mindful of: the blessings are to bring glory to God, not happiness to us.
Our first distortion about godly blessings is what exactly blessings are. What is a blessing for us? The answer is unique to every person and situation. There are many times we think we know what God should bless us with, but we have a limited scope of reality. We don’t see the big picture. We are mostly guided by our current feelings and circumstances, not a view of the entire creation over the span of all eternity. Just as a child thinks that a candy bar or bowl of ice cream right before bed is the best thing his or her parent can give them, the parent recognizes otherwise. How much more then does our Heavenly Father know what is best for us? The child goes to bed kicking and screaming without ice cream and the parent, although not enjoying the tantrum, patiently puts the child to bed. How often do we go kicking and screaming against God because He doesn’t bless us the way we want to be blessed? At the very least it’s an exercise in learning to trust the One who blesses more than the blessing. At most it’s allowing us to be blessed with not getting what we want. The child thinks the parent is mean, inconsiderate, and unloving. But when the child wakes up the next day healthy and fully rested as a result of not getting what they wanted the night before, does the child recognize the blessing of being denied what they wanted? Do they even remember the night before? Do they try to learn from the experience or hold a grudge against their parent? How about years later when the child is a maturely grown man or woman and has the self-discipline to not eat junk food late at night and leads a healthy lifestyle thanks to all those restless nights as a child without ice cream?
As we begin to see the bigger picture from God’s perspective as the loving parent who knows what is best for us, let us transition into the purposeof blessings. In today’s culture, we are all about instant gratification and feeding/pacifying our current emotions. We have created a society where we feel we either have to feed and satisfy each desire as it comes and goes or that if we don’t do so, we are somehow injuring ourselves or others. This couldn’t be farther from the truth! The reality is that blessings, while they are a gift from God, are also to glorify God. I know we have all had the prayer, “Lord, if you would just give me this, I’ll do this, that, and the other thing.” God doesn’t want us to make deals with Him just so we can get a little extra money or comfort in our lives. He doesn’t need our promises, because we are going to break them anyway. What He wants from us is trust and obedience. Why? Because it not only brings Him glory but also it edifies our lives. Jesus said in John 14:
13 “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it. 15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
We tend to cling to verses 13 and 14 and skip 15. Yet, verse 15 qualifiesverses 13 and 14. It’s not a way to manipulate God, rather it’s a way to understand God’s will and therefore ask for things according to what is good, pure, and holy. If we read Psalm 67 again, we notice that God’s blessing isn’t about his children being happy, rather revealing His holiness to the people that don’t know Him yet! He cares for His people and in turn His glory shines through them.
So remember that when we get upset with God because He isn’t giving us what we want or even what we think we need, Dad knows what’s best for us and will only give us the best that edifies and grows us into the people He created us to be. Thank Him for the blessing of hardship, because it’s exactly what we need even if we don’t agree. Praise Him for the blessing of discipline, because it makes us a better disciple. Worship Him for His goodness not just to us, but to all nations.