As a young millennial, I have a terrible habit of using slang as a joke, but after a while it starts to stick in my vocabulary. So it is with #blessed. If you’re unfamiliar, I’ll use it in context:
“Aw man, the restaurant messed up my order, so they gave me free chicken wings. #blessed”
“I really didn’t want to get dressed and go out tonight, and my friend just cancelled. #blessed”
We tend to use this phrase for anything moderately pleasing or exciting. Some people do drop it in big announcements too – buying a new house, the birth of a child, a clean bill of health from the doctor. But because #blessed is seen billions of times across our screens, it’s lost just about any weight.
Which is why I unironically used it to describe the free chicken wings that happened to me this past weekend. Is free food a blessing? Absolutely! But knowing that we are blessed is about so much more. Let’s not let the overuse of this phrase take away from the incredible truth of what it really means for us to be #blessed.
The question is not does God bless us, but why does He bless us so much?
If you are a follower of Christ, then you have already acknowledged the greatest blessing and gift that anyone can receive – salvation. Romans 5:8 says that “while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” He didn’t die for us when we were already on our knees repentant, or when we were starting to feel a bit guilty, or even when we thought “maybe there’s a better way.” He sought us out and fought for us, when we were actively working against Him! He chose us before the foundations of the world and cares so much for each and every one of us.
There is no greater blessing.
Perhaps you’ve been challenged before with this question: if you had nothing else in this life, but you had Christ, would it be enough? If every good thing in your life was lost, but you still had Christ, could you still be thankful? It’s a big question.
But consider this: our lives are but a vapor (James 4:14), and we face eternity afterwards. Only in Christ can we experience true life, unbroken by the sin that we struggle against every day here on earth. He has saved us from the pain and heartbreak, suffering and illness that all of us will experience on earth – even if we have an otherwise great life. What a gift!
But that isn’t the only way He blesses us. Our God is generous and compassionate. He did not offer us salvation and then leave us to trudge through life, awaiting a distant joy at the end but misery in the interim. Let’s not be so focused on the promised joy ahead of us that we forget to notice all the ways God blesses us here on earth.
There’s a psychological model called Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Basically, it is a triangle that is split into layers of what human beings need in order to thrive. The bottom layer is your basic physical needs: food, water, warmth and rest. Above that is safety and security. Above that is the need for belonging and love – our relational needs, and above that is esteem, our need to feel accomplishment. At the very top of the triangle is self-actualization; only after all the previous basic needs are fulfilled can we focus on this. This is the space we have to work hard at goals and fulfill our potential.
The theory behind this model is that we must move from the base layer up – a person who is starving is not as concerned with how many friends they have. A person who isn’t physically safe will not care about being a straight-A student.
Scripture affirms that God cares about each of these needs, and He provides for them too.
God cares about our basic needs.
God cares about our safety.
God cares about our relational needs.
God cares about our self-esteem.
Going back to Maslow’s model, the peak of the triangle is self-actualization, or working to become the best we can be. For the Christian, this may look like spending time mentoring or discipling someone, volunteering with the church, or putting in the extra effort to raise kids who love the Lord. When we realize how blessed we have been by God, we can pour our strength into serving Him.
It’s not Thanksgiving or New Years, so we probably haven’t been spending a lot of time counting our blessings lately, but take a moment to pause and just think about how you have been blessed in your life. Start with the basics:
Did you have food to eat today? That is a blessing.
Do you have a safe place to sleep tonight? That is a blessing.
Do you have a good friend or family member you can talk to? That is a blessing.
Have you been breathing unaided the whole time you’ve been reading this article? That is a blessing.
Yeah yeah yeah, you’re thinking. I have all of those things, but life is still tough. Those are just the basics! Is God only interested in giving me the basics? Am I really #blessed if I’m not healthy, wealthy or popular?
What is something that fills you with joy? (It can be something small and silly, or something grand.)
What is a skill that you have that makes you feel proud?
Who in your life has made you feel safe and loved?
What do you think is the most beautiful thing in the world?
What is your favorite Bible verse? Why?
The world around us dictates what we must have or do to live a rich life. But we are not #blessed because we have a bottomless bank account, a Hollywood-ready spouse, a Pinterest-worthy house and perfect health and joy. If that’s what we are waiting for (or demanding of God) then we will only be disappointed. We are blessed by so many little joys in our day-to-day life, by needs met in unexpected ways, but people who come into our lives to help us, or just to make us smile. God can bless us by laying a particular verse on our hearts, to encourage us in a difficult time. Or we can be blessed just by a sunny day and a good song on the radio when we need a pick-me-up.
God can certainly give us all the big, extravagant things, but we don’t want to start thinking of Him like a genie who only exists to give us cool things. He has already given us so many cool things! If we stop to ponder all the small blessings around us, and thank God for all of them, then I guarantee you will be blown away by how much you have.
However, we are not only #blessed by the small things. Every big, extravagant, exciting thing is a massive blessing from God Almighty! Maybe you do have a bottomless bank account, Hollywood-ready spouse, Pinterest-worthy house, perfect health and joy. Praise God if so! All of those big things are also blessings. We must spend time thanking Him for guiding us through the right doors and opening up opportunities for big blessings as well.
May we come to God in thanksgiving every time we remember that we are #blessed. That goes for the brand-new car, and the free chicken wings.
Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Maridav
Bethany Pyle is the editor for Bible Study Tools.com and the design editor for Crosscards.com. She has a background in journalism and a degree in English from Christopher Newport University. When not editing for Salem, she enjoys good fiction and better coffee.