A Blessing in Disguise

Dear Friends,

I have found that sometimes God gives us a blessing which is packaged as something entirely different.  Let me explain what I mean.

From a human point of view, living with a long-term illness is no blessing, in fact, it appears to be quite the opposite.  To be honest with you, being in the middle of a rough patch right now it seems like anything but a blessing!  Yet I do know it to be a blessing in disguise.   You see, God's ways are not our ways, and God's thoughts are not our thoughts.  It has been God's gift to blessing to me in that God has taken me into a deeper relationship with him and he has taught me things and transformed me in ways that I might never have known or experienced any other way.

Perhaps you too have experienced a particular blessing from God which has been packaged in an unexpected way.  I hesitate to refer to anything specific, but if you have, you will know what that is.

Paul certainly saw his thorn as a gift and a blessing from God. In 2 Corinthians 12 writes "Because of the extravagance of those revelations, and so I wouldn’t get a big head, I was given the gift of a handicap to keep me in constant touch with my limitations. Satan’s angel did his best to get me down; what he in fact did was push me to my knees. No danger then of walking around high and mighty! At first I didn’t think of it as a gift, and begged God to remove it. Three times I did that, and then he told me, My grace is enough; it’s all you need.  My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift." (MSG)

There are more examples from the Bible of blessings disguised as other than what they seem, but, as it's drawing closer to the Christmas season, I'd like to focus on Mary, the mother of Jesus.

In Luke 1:28-30 we read "Gabriel appeared to her and said, 'Greetings, favoured woman! The Lord is with you!'  29 Confused and disturbed, Mary tried to think what the angel could mean. 30 'Don’t be afraid, Mary,' the angel told her, 'for you have found favour with God!'" (NLT).

Then look at the greeting Mary receives as she visits Elizabeth:
"Elizabeth gave a glad cry and exclaimed to Mary, “God has blessed you above all women, and your child is blessed." Luke 1:42 (NLT).

Mary was blessed by God in a way that no one else has ever or will ever experience.  God chose her to be the mother of the Messiah, his own dear Son.  What a blessing and an honour for her to know God in this way.  She must have enjoyed a very special relationship with him.

Yet, I think there must have been times for her when it seemed like anything else but a blessing.  Consider if you will, what life must have been like for this ordinary village girl.  She knew the Jewish law, she knew that for a pregnant, unwed girl, living in her parent's home, the punishment was stoning.  She knew Joseph was within his rights to divorce her.  You can also imagine what kinds of things were said to her and about her by the people in her village - the judgement, criticism, harsh words, people turning their backs to her, wanting nothing to do with her.  She had some idea of the cost involved in such a blessing.

How blessed was she to have to travel for miles on a donkey, whilst heavily pregnant, to Bethlehem?  How blessed was she to have no home, no family, no midwife around her as she went through the pains of childbirth alone?   How blessed was she to then only have at hand a feeding trough for the Son of God's cradle?  She must have wanted so much more for him.

How blessed was she to see the misunderstanding, the judgement, the hatred of the religious leaders towards her dear son as he ministered to his people for three years?

I can barely begin to imagine how it must have been for her as she watched the unjust trial Jesus was put through, as she saw him abused, mistreated, beaten, and then watched him suffer the most degrading, painful death imaginable.  Death on a cross.

These must have been times which were almost unbearable for Mary.  Difficult times.  Painful times. Times when it felt as though her heart was breaking in two.  As Jesus' mother she suffered much.

If we look at her life from this perspective, using only our human eyes, it's hard to see how she was blessed. Sometimes it's hard to look at our own situation (whatever that may be for you) and see the blessing God intends for us.

Yet, let's not forget that Mary truly was blessed by God.  Out of all the women he could have chosen to bear his son, he chose Mary.  The gift he gave her has also become a gift that is now available to each one of us - the gift of having the Lord Jesus Christ in our lives, of having a relationship with him.  God blessed Mary with his presence, his strength, his joy, and his peace. Every day of her life, he was with her, revealing precious truths about himself, showing her his love and care.  Every day she must have grown closer to God and depended on him in a way that she could not depend on anyone else. Surely it was the blessing of his presence and strength which enabled her to endure all that she did.  She is an example of incredible faith in God.

I believe God longs for us to see things the way he does.  To trust in him who only gives good gifts and blesses us in ways we don't always understand.

My hope for you is that whatever you are going through right now, that you will be able to see beyond the packaging, to what the gift from God really is, that it truly is a blessing in disguise.

To Think About:
Spend some time thanking God that through his blessing on Mary's life, we too are a people who are blessed with the presence of Jesus in our life.

What is happening in your life at the moment? Is it easy to see it as a blessing or does it seem like something entirely different?

What could help you to see it from God's perspective?



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