joy

Joy in the Mess: A Blessed Life – Charity Wright

We’ve invited three of our own to post on the blog from the prompt, “what does a blessed life look like?” We hope you enjoy their reflections and are driven to reflect on God’s goodness to you as well. Thanks for reading.

It was 8:15 on a school morning. We were running behind, as usual. I sat my first grade daughter, Rachel, down (again) at the kitchen table, barely holding it together as I tried to impress upon her the urgency of finishing the last couple of math problems from her homework assignment, due that day. The eggs were burning. The baby was crying. My 4-year-old son was having a meltdown because he’d stepped in something (probably his own pee) and gotten his socks wet. And the clock was ticking. I turned around to see Rachel hunched over what I thought was her Math homework, only to find that she had dumped out a box of crayons, and was intently coloring – coloring! – on what looked like a little pile of scrap paper.

At this point, I completely lost it. Yanking the crayon out of Rachel’s hand, I ripped into her: You’re disobeying me. Why can’t you just follow instructions? How many times do I have to tell you? I’ve had it with you! As I continued my rant, she looked up at me, tears streaming down her face, and handed me the paper she’d been coloring. It was a little booklet with uneven pages, painstakingly illustrated and taped together. In block letters on the front, it read, “Why I love my mom.”

Needless to say, the events of the morning did not make it into our Christmas letter that year.

A Blessed Life

I share this snapshot now, not to excuse my daughter’s disobedience (for disobedience it was, even if it took the form of a sweet homemade book) or my subsequent outburst, but to honestly say in that particular moment, I felt like the worst parent ever. In fact, I felt anything but blessed.

In the original Greek (makarios) and Hebrew (esher), this word – blessed – means happy, fortunate, well off. Miriam Webster defines it as enjoying happiness, bliss, pleasure, contentment.

So here’s the question: Am I living a blessed life – happy, blissful, content, well off, fortunate – in the truly ugly moments? The ones no one will ever post on social media?

The answer is a resounding “YES!” As Christ-followers, blessing is our unchanging reality. Psalm 32:1 says, “How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered!” When we repent of (turn from) sin and turn to Christ, trusting in His death alone to remove our wrongdoing and to cover us with His righteousness forever, we are blessed with eternal life in the place of the eternal death we deserve. Think about that for a minute. Let the truth of it soak into the deep places of your soul. If we belong to Christ, we serve a God who defeated death itself. We’ve been made new, raised from death to life in Christ Jesus! Our sins and shortcomings and failures can do nothing to change this reality.

While we know and believe all of this on some level, often we have difficulty embracing the truth of it in a practical, daily sense. I certainly don’t feel as though I’m living a blessed life immediately after I (yet again) lose control of my mouth and spew out angry, hurtful words to my husband and my children. Or when I’m feeling betrayed by a trusted friend. Or when someone I care about is suffering and there’s nothing I can do to stop the pain. When I’m so down in the dumps I polish off an entire block of Swiss cheese in one sitting. When I’m lying in bed, sleepless, at 4am, listening to (and believing) the lies echoing in my head . . . stupid . . . worthless . . . failure . . . You’ve made such a mess of things!

Blessed in Christ

Friends, this is truth: In those painful, ugly moments – YOU ARE BLESSED, whether or not you feel it. How thankful I am that my hope is not in my own efforts or performance, but in Jesus Christ.

The following passage so beautifully expresses the blessing to be found in knowing, and depending on, the Lord.

How blessed are the people who know the joyful sound!
O Lord, they walk in the light of Your countenance.
In Your name they rejoice all the day,
And by Your righteousness they are exalted.
For You are the glory of their strength,
And by Your favor our horn is exalted.
For our shield belongs to the Lord,
And our king to the Holy One of Israel.  – Psalm 89:15-18

In the words of Jonathan Edwards, “ They that know the “joyful sound,” they shall be admitted near, nearer than Moses, so as to see the glory of God’s face or brightness of his countenance, and that not only transiently, as Moses saw God’s back parts, but continually” (emphasis mine).

Joy (blessing) is walking continually in the light of HIS countenance, rejoicing in HIS name, exalted by HIS righteousness, glorying in HIS strength. Joy is knowing that I have nothing except what Christ has graciously given me, and I am nothing except what Christ has made me. Joy is reveling in God’s nearness.

If you’re having a difficult time feeling blessed, take a look at the Psalms. They are filled with the promise of blessing in the midst of trials, uncertainty, sin (we’re talking murder and adultery!), fear and even anger. Why? Because the blessing comes when we stop clinging to our own “goodness” and begin to rely on, and take comfort in, HIS goodness.

O taste and see that the Lord is good; how blessed is the man who takes refuge in HIM! – Psalm 34:8

O Lord of hosts, how blessed is the man who trusts in YOU. – Psalm 84:12

How, then, do we continue in this truth, during the not-so-picture-perfect moments?  God extends an invitation and a promise in the following passage:

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers,
But his delight is in the law of the LORD,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season,
And its leaf does not wither
And in whatever he does, he prospers.  – Psalm 1:1-3

The invitation is to delight in, and meditate on, His life-giving Word. The promise is that, in so doing, we will prosper: our spiritual roots will go deep and we’ll produce the lasting fruit of righteousness.

Nothing in my hand I bring,
Simply to Thy cross I cling.
Naked, come to Thee for dress,
Helpless, look to Thee for grace.
Foul, I to the fountain fly.
Wash me, Savior, or I die!

Those times of weakness and failure and sorrow and emptiness can serve as the most poignant reminders that we are indeed blessed. What I am not . . . He is. What I cannot do . . . He has already done for me. What I cannot rid myself of . . . He has removed from me as far as the East is from the West. What I truly need . . . He has provided in full.

The secret to living a blessed life is in understanding that our greatest blessing is Christ Himself. It is taking confidence from the knowledge that, as His disciples, we continually walk in the light of His countenance.

I’m forever grateful that God chooses to redeem our lives’ messiest moments and use them for His glory!

— Charity Wright

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