How do you define a blessing? Is a blessing always a positive feel-good event? I couldn’t possibly begin to imagine how you would answer those questions and I’m not completely sure that I know how I will answer them. On Tuesday morning (12/21/2010) at 4:38am my son was born into this world. What a miracle, what an opportunity to worship my God the Creator of all. As many of you have noted on facebook, twitter, text messages, or email, this baby boy is the best Christmas gift I could ask for or that his birth and health is an incredible blessing. I agree with both statements and appreciate them deeply, however because of some events in the past year of my life, I have been forced to think about gifts and blessings a little differently (see posts beginning April 3, 2010 until now for a broader context). I wonder what types of messages I would have received if Andy would not have been healthy? Would his lack of health been the opposite of a gift or a blessing? So, let’s think about what awesome gifts and what incredible blessings actually are.
Almost exactly 11 months ago my dad was brutally murdered, is that a blessing? Shortly thereafter my grandmother passed away. Not long after that my aunt lost her battle with cancer. Then just 9 days ago (my birthday) my grandfather’s body finally gave out and he died as well. Would you describe this past year that my family has endured a blessing? Well I guess that all depends on how you define a blessing. If you define a blessing as something that leads to immediate joy and happiness, then this year could not be defined as a blessing for me. However, if you defined a blessing as something that will lead to my greater dependence on God, my deeper devotion to God, and my long term character maturation, then these events can and should be called a blessing. I consider it a blessing that God would give me an ability to preach and share his word at 2 of these funerals. I consider it a blessing that I got to spend more time with my family than usual. Mostly, I have come to realize this year that most events can be reframed and redefined to more adequately reflect their true meaning.
I would not have been able to consider these losses as blessings last year. Even now, I still miss and deeply long to see them. I think about what they would have thought about my son. I wonder what they would say when they saw my little boy. But just because I miss them and wish they were still here, does not negate the blessing of their passing. And even though I tend to be completely egocentric thinking that everything that happens directly relates to me, I also realize that the death of my loved ones is ultimately a blessing for themselves. Each of them were believers in the person and work of Jesus Christ on their behalf so their sins would be forgiven and they received the free gift of eternal life. Ultimately their blessing was to give up their sin laiden and dying bodies for a perfect and completed one that will never struggle with sin, getting older, or any type of disease ever again. They are now seeing clearly our God and Creator of all and likely worshiping Him with a vigor like never before. What a blessing! Even though I miss them and at times wish they were here on earth with me, even I the selfish manipulator, couldn’t ask them to give up eternal glory and perfected bodies for their former earthly ones. That would be ludicrous and unthinkable, but it took me almost a year to realize that my desire to have them back was asking just that, to give up their perfected bodies and jump back into their lives of pain and suffering. What a blessing that not only my family members have received but one they have provided for me as well.
Nevertheless, your comments and notes are right; Andy’s birth is the greatest Christmas gift that I could imagine at this point of my earthly life. He is also the most incredible blessing I could think of at this point of my earthly life. But I hope that if Andy was not healthy that I could and would make the same exact statements. I guess I am learning that a blessing is something/someone given by God in order to bring about his eternal purposes, which include making his name great and my character more dependent on Him. What about you? Are there any events in your life that need to be reframed as blessings from God?
This is my prayer…
Father in Heaven, I praise your holy name for the many blessings that you have graced me with this year; the more difficult blessings and the easier more readily accepted ones. I beg that you would continue to develop me into a man that is able to raise Andy (your child) in a way that makes your name great and leads him to fear and worship you from an early age. I beg for your grace and mercy in the times where I fail and thank you for your guidance throughout the times I succeed. Amen
By the way... Andrew "Andy" Prentis Arnold was born on 12/21/2010 at 4:38am. He weighed 6 lbs 15.5 oz and measured 19 inches in length.