In the early morning (okay, more like 7:30…but it’s staying darker later) as I was dropping the kiddos off at school, I saw on the car ahead of me a bumper sticker. It was simple. Just four words: “Too Blessed to Complain.” My mind began to whirl in theological musings “Hmmmm….what does that mean?” I began to think.
What is their definition of blessed? And what does it mean to be “too” blessed based off of their definition? And what do they mean by complaining? And how does complaining match their view of being blessed?
I chewed on this for a little bit (okay, just a few seconds, being ADD somethings just bounce around in a temporal loop which feels longer sometimes than they actually are) I saw the owner of the car arrive. They were wearing a Lions sweatshirt. Well, there’s a reason to complain, right? I mean when was the last time the Lions got to a Super Bowl? More than that, haven’t they had like some major issues with players lately? Of course, the lions did do a big smack down on the Bears (Da Bears!) on Sunday, so I really shouldn’t be complaining…do they complain about the Lions? Is being a Lions fan connected to being blessed and not complaining?
A problem today among followers of Jesus (read: Christians) is that we focus too much on blessings being physical. Blessings become things that we get or are given to us in one way or another. We are blessed with a happy healthy family. We are blessed with a nice house with a three stall garage which is in a nice neighborhood. We are blessed with good friends, good health, good people, good cars, good jobs, good, well, everything. And so we say we’re blessed because we have stuff. We have good stuff.
So, yeah, if your so comfortable with things, why should you complain? You have nothing to complain about (unless you’re a Michigan fan after that MSU game). But what happens when you lose all that stuff?
That’s what happened to Job. Satan told God that Job was a good follower because he had stuff–a nice house, a huge family, a thriving business. Satan said that if you took all that away, Job wouldn’t be feeling all that blessed anymore. God allowed it (won’t go there right now…that’s a whole ‘nother post). And Job still stated he was blessed. Even in illness. Even in friends being jerks. Even with a wife who told him to curse God and die, Job still stayed strong in the Lord and said that he was blessed.
We focus on stuff as blessings. And when we don’t like what’s going on in ourlives, when our stuff isn’t enough to really feel the blessings, when all things are going to H-E-double hockey sticks in a hand basket, we try hard not to complain.
Because we already said we’re blessed. And to admit that we had a different definition of blessings or to accept the fact that being a Christian doesn’t mean getting stuff from God, or to admit that you’re struggling in the faith, would undermine all of that stuff you just said about being blessed. It makes one worried about not looking like a good enough Christian and therefore must put up the front of not complaining (even being a Lion’s fan I guess).
Blessings ain’t stuff.
The Apostle Paul is a great example of struggling with blessings. In 2 Corinthians Paul talks about receiving a thorn in the flesh (be it a physical thorn or a metaphorical thorn or a spiritual thorn or what have you). He should have been the most blessed person around for all he had been doing for Jesus. Yet he receives this thorn in the flesh, something that prevents him from really doing ministry, something that weakens him. And he cries out to God, he prays to God to remove it. And it doesn’t happen. In fact, the opposite happens.
Jesus answers his prayers
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9
Jesus had said that if we have the faith the size of a mustard seed we can cast mountains into the ocean (see Matthew 17:20)..I think a thorn is a lot smaller than a mountain. And it didn’t budge. Instead, Jesus showed how weakness magnified His strength. And in response, Paul rejoiced and worshiped Jesus all the more because there was something more to life than just thorns and visions and ministry. There is Jesus.
We get too focused on physical blessings. And in doing so, we get too focused on crap. We get too focused on when things go to pot we feel God has withdrawn from us and not the other way around.
Blessings aren’t about the physical (though that does happen to Job and to others but that’s, again, a whole ‘nother post) they’re about the spiritual–new life in Jesus, restoration with God and with others. Yes, we have been given a lot. It’s okay to vent frustrations. It’s okay to allow some doubt to emerge or even struggles with faith. Yet when we focus just on physical blessings, we miss the point of why we follow Jesus in the first place–peace, comfort, forever made right with God, salvation, and all the awesome that comes with that. We focus on the blessings and forget our first love.
So, if you’re too blessed to complain, ask yourself about your definition of blessed. If it’s only on the physical, you’ll eventually complain. Focus on who Jesus is first, then move on from there talking about blessings.