Blessed—When It Isn’t What You Think

I’ve spent the two weeks thinking about the future. It isn’t necessarily a “New Year’s Resolution” or even a “Word for the Year” kind of pondering. It’s more of a “what do I want to be” kind of processing.

2017 was hard. I spent a vast majority of social gatherings silently pleaded with everyone I met not to say, “Well, it could be worse!” Because life in the Tromp house always seemed to become worse.

But somewhere in the tears, exhaustion, and bracing myself for what would come next, I began to redefine a few things. Big things.

Like the words, “I’m blessed.”

Are there any two words more misused than “I’m blessed”?

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I’m blessed to have two well-behaved, intelligent, talented kids.

I’m blessed with a good job.

I’m blessed…

So if her kids are C students who struggle with friends and have absolutely NO talent in soccer or art, is she not blessed?

If your husband is fired, are you not blessed?

If, heaven forbid, her doctor says she have breast cancer, is she not blessed?

If life doesn’t go as I planned, am I not blessed?

And that led me straight into pondering the nature of love and suffering. In the Christian culture, we talk about confronting the bad things of life with thanksgiving. And it works, to an extent.

But maybe there are moments when covering pain with thanksgiving just isn’t right…at least not yet.

There’s an interplay between our position as beloved of God and inevitable suffering in life, and I think the link may be lament.

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Where we echo with the prophet Jeremiah, “They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious. ‘Peace, peace,’ they say, when there is no peace.”

I don’t know what it looks like quite yet—this accepting suffering as a part of being beloved. It’s one of the many things I’ll be exploring this year and I welcome you all along for the journey.

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16 thoughts on “Blessed—When It Isn’t What You Think

    1. Absolutely, blessings surround us in our suffering, but there’s something about suffering ITSELF that is a blessing. And that is a much harder thing to get my arms around. Think of Christ’s suffering on the cross and how that was a blessing. The verse God works all things together for good suggests he uses the actual suffering to weave something good and that makes the suffering a blessing. Still trying to put it all in proper perspective…

  1. Janyre:
    Although I agree with the concept, I struggle with truly understanding how serious pain and suffering require our thanks.
    I like what Julie Dibble said: “… a communion with Christ…”

    ~ Richard

    1. I definitely struggle with the concept…when my girl was in frantic tears as a nurse was digging for a vein…again, you can bet giving thanks wasn’t the first thing on my mind. BUT I can’t ignore Eph. 5:20, “always giving thanks to God the Father for everything.” We have to realize that giving thanks is a choice, but I think it often takes TIME to get there. Which is where I think lament comes in. I’m doing some study on the biblical concept at the moment, but just from a quick perusal of the Psalms, proclaiming pain is somehow a vehicle to bring us to thanksgiving. Still digging through it…

  2. Janyre,

    So thankful for your pondering of the word ‘blessing.’ I listened to a podcast the other day about this very word and what it truly means biblically and how it is used there. When we look at the fulness of everything God has done and how we are blessed, it is necessary to show how we are blessed by God through Christ. It’s a means to show the world who God is. Blessing is the command of God, the opportunity to follow Him. Blessing is beyond the tangible, the material, the things we are able to see. We will receive an inheritance and that goes beyond the scope of what I am able to understand this side of heaven.

    In Romans 8 it says: “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

    I’m grateful for you and how you earnestly seek the Lord!

    1. Thank you so much, Erendira! That Romans 8 passage is one of my all-time favorites! I can just picture Paul listing out everything that anyone struggles with and then capping it off with or anything else like he’s been arguing with a toddler. And boy, can I ever be that toddler sometimes—arguing until I’ve tangled myself up in my own web of confusion 🙂

  3. Ever since the Fall of mankind from Grace life is linked with pain. It’s unavoidable. But God allows for the “ouch!” to escape our lips and tears to flow. I think thankfulness is understanding that He is right there with us as we go through it. He is the God of Comfort, which is a blessing when you are in pain.
    Thanks for your thoughtful and thought provoking post. Blessings to you as you begin 2018.

    1. Thanks, Vicki! That is definitely the heart of our thankfulness. It just takes time to get there sometimes. I often struggle with giving myself the time to grieve. Even Jesus mourned his friend’s death and cried out in his physical and emotional pain as he approached the cross.

  4. We are blessed if we are a child of God. There is blessing in good things and in suffering. Whatever God brings into our lives to shape us and mold us into his image, that is the real blessing. That he would care enough for us to change it from the inside out. Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I really enjoyed them.

  5. Janyre,
    2017 was also a year of hard blessings for me, so can I give you a hug? My best friends died from cancer, and while she is rejoicing in heaven, here I sit – without her. Life is full of hard blessings, and it makes me think of that Laura Story song Blessings “What if our blessings come through raindrops?”What if your healing comes through tears?”

    1. Carol, I’m sending hugs back to you. I am so sorry for your loss. And I absolutely adore Laura Story’s song. I can’t hear that song without dissolving into a blubbery mess 🙂 Her book on the same topic is on my TBR list for 2018.

  6. You mentioned a word that is rarely said “lament”. I have found the Psalms to be a great blessing because of the movement from crying out to the Lord in a pain and distress to offering praise with joy. Both emotional states are given their place. The connection is acknowledging both in prayer. Enjoyed your pondering.

    1. Lament is a word that is new to me in the last few years. The practice of lament is something so foreign to our western thought process, but there’s a reason the Psalms speak so clearly to those in pain (even outside of the Judeo-Christian world) we were created to lament. Blessings to you.

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