I recently was having a conversation, when my discourse partner shared an opinion about those “blessed” with material wealth. It caught me off guard—as it did him—when we realised how frequently and easily the word “blessed” is used – and misused.
It’s become commonplace in our culture to refer to our good fortune as blessings. Obviously no harm is intended by that use of the word, but the inadvertent implications are that those who are less ‘fortunate’ are, in fact, less blessed.
This, I suggest strongly, is simply not true.
(Thinking within the context of this week’s devastating fires in Fort McMurray (one of my childhood homes), we would not doubt for a moment that this city’s evacuated residents are victims of horrible circumstance, whose material loss is profound and utterly horrific; that there has been (at time of writing) no fatalities in the fires is amazing.
I suspect that no one would dare suggest to an evacuee that they are less “blessed” due to their loss of material possessions.)
So I invite us to return to the truer, deeper understanding of a blessing; to realize that it is not synonymous with “lucky.” I invite us to use the word with care and intentionality.
Scripturally, “bless” means fulfillment and happiness—not a fleeting, temporary moment, but the self-contained joy that comes from a connection to God.
In Hebrew, this is the blessing (root: בָּרַך—barak) that God bestows on his creation, filling all creatures with joy (Gen 1.22cf); it is the blessing that is given from one generation to another. (While scriptural familial blessings were often connected to discussions on inheritance, birthright, and predictions, it is important to recognise that these are distinct – coincidental, not correlational.)
In Greek, this is the blessing (root: μακάριος—makarios) of the Beatitudes. This is the blessing on the one who comes in the name of the Lord (Ps 118.26; Lk 19.38, Mt 23.39).
Blessings are about a wish to be in positive, healthy relationship with God. They are not about winning the lottery, or having good health, or the perfect family, or whatever earthly benefit we want. A lack of these things may make us feel unfortunate, but it does not make us unblessed.
We are called to recognise our blessings – not those things which are of earthly material, but that joy and purpose which comes from the Lord. We are called to share this blessing with a world that can benefit from knowing the fulfillment and happiness of God in our lives.
I pray God’s blessing upon us all. I pray that we all feel, celebrate, and live into the joy of the Lord.