I’ve been thinking a lot this Advent season about the word “blessed”.

It all started with a post I read by Jamie Wright about the word “blessed” that quoted Inigo Montoyo from the Princess Bride: “You keep using this word. I do not think it means what you think it means.”

She wrote:

We’ve created a culture in which we measure God’s “blessings” in terms of dollars and cents, comfort and pleasure, wealth and well-being. So, if we’re happy and healthy and have everything we need, then we’re blessed, and we should thank God on social media. We tend to ignore the secondary message this sends to those who are unhappy or unhealthy, or for whom things are just generally crappy. Too bad, so sad, if your life sucks, you’re #NotBlessed.

The second thing that led me to focus on this word, “blessed” was that John and I were preparing to preach together on Mary, the mother of Jesus and there was that word again!  In Luke 1 it refers to Mary twice as “highly favored” and then Mary herself says:

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—   holy is his name.”

Blessed?  Really?  Think of the life Mary was living and would live, right up to the cross.IMG_8844Ok, honestly, if it had been me my “magnificat” probably would have read:

“ARE YOU KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW GOD???  I’m an unwed teenager and PREGNANT and could be stoned if my fiancé decides I’m not marriage material!  OH AND BY THE WAY I’M A GIRL, AND POOR, AND YOU MUST BE A TERRIBLE GOD to think this is a blessing!…”

The third time my mind was drawn to this was in a Bible study I am doing on the Advent stories.  One of the prompts was: List three blessings of your life right now.

My mind automatically went to comfortable. I wrote: Wonderful family; warm, delightful home; loving friends.

But would I fill in the blank, or tweet, “Money tight, friend dying, daughter not home for Christmas #blessed ?”

And while we’re at it, look at the Beatitudes in Matthew 5 for Pete’s sake!  “Blessed are the poor in spirit?” and “those who mourn”??

And then there’s James 5:11 “We count as blessed those who have persevered…”

When I pray that God will bless someone, do I REALLY know what I’m praying?

Some translate “blessed” as “happy”, but the only way Mary would be “happy” with her “blessings” is if she saw them through a strong understanding of God’s character and a trust in Him beyond what she could see.  Beyond her immediate circumstances.

“Blessed” doesn’t have to be uncomfortable, but to be blessed is not dependent on circumstances.  It is to be beloved. To have God’s loving presence no matter what and to know that He has better and bigger plans than our temporary comfort.

This isn’t about inauthenticity or slapping on a smile when your dog dies and shouting “Praise the Lord!”  It’s just a bigger perspective on where we find our ultimate peace and security.

So today, regardless of your circumstances, remember God’s got this. He is with you. You are blessed.