To be blessed unexpectedly, to be startled out of our complacency by God’s grace, is a way for God to remind us that that we are never alone or abandoned—even when we think we are. “Blessed,” though widely used, is a deeply Christian word. It is a spiritual word. It is a biblical word. People may talk about ‘blessings’ in their lives, but a Christian truly knows what it is to be blessed—it is the witness to the presence of God!
So, what does it mean to be blessed? In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells us we are makarios, “blessed,” which literally means to be happy or blissful. But it also denotes a self-contained happiness. The Greeks called the island of Cyprus ‘the happy isle’. They believed that, because of its geographical location, perfect climate, and fertile soil, anyone who lived on Cyprus had all the essentials for true contentment. And the term they associated with the island was makarios. They believed everything you needed to be happy was right there on the island.
We can’t all move to Cyprus, but the idea is that our happiness is independent of our circumstances. It is self-contained, meaning that regardless of what is happening to us externally, we can be truly happy internally. God’s amazingly identifiable blessings that interrupt our lives and draw us up short, those blessings are to get our attention, like a bright yellow road sign that there is a curve up ahead. The curve is already there, the sign just makes us more attentive. As followers of Jesus Christ, we have been promised that every day God’s “road sign” is life itself! In this way every moment of every day is a blessing from God! This is the reason that Jesus both began and concluded his earthly ministry by blessing people.
C.S. Lewis was right when he said, “When we lose one blessing, another is often most unexpectedly given in its place.” That’s how God works. He doesn’t always give us what we want, but he always gives us what we need. That’s a huge difference, so our loss may end up being great gain; our request may end up being better. And whatever it is we pray for or blessing we have or lose, God always knows what he’s doing. We can trust him infinitely more than we can trust ourselves.
But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. Jeremiah 17:7-8