Have you ever stopped to think what a burden a blessing might be?
We ask God to bless us without really knowing what we are asking for.
We wish each other God’s blessings on days of birth and holidays. We ask for blessings of health and wealth as if those are the only forms of blessings possible.
Do you know what a double edged sword God’s blessings can be?
When you ask God for his blessings, do you ever stop to think what you might be agreeing to?
Studying the major blessings that we see in the Bible, I think they all come with a heavy burden. I wonder if I were to ask Abraham, Moses, David, Mary, Peter, or Paul (to name just a bare few) if they would say that while worth it, God’s blessings were particularly heavy at times?
If you knew that you were going to be plunged into the fire to be molded and sharpened, would you be eager to be a recipient of God’s blessings?
If you knew that to get the blessing you would have to do something that was going to be difficult and trying, would you still ask God?
I think we really need to think carefully about asking God for his “favor and protection.” God is no wish fulfilling genie. There is a purpose behind everything he does. While he protects us from the talons of the evil one, perhaps his favor has a heavier load that accompanies it.
Abraham was called out of his culture to be blessed mightily by a God forgotten by most of the population. By answering God’s call, Abraham is accepting the first part of a contract between himself and the Divine. By seeking God’s blessing – the promised offspring that will be multipled greatly- Abraham is in essence sealing the contract (a binding agreement) with God.
Both God and Abraham must fulfill their part of the agreement for the blessing to be fully realized. This is where the burden can be seen.
Now, we must remember that in all subsequent contracts we look out, God has always laid out exactly what he expects and what he promises. God has never breached his contracts, nor does he hide in loopholes. He did no less with Abraham.
Abraham is a product of his own sin though. Where God has promised -blessed- him and Sarah with a multitude of descendants in their barren union, Abraham’s duty was to have faith and trust in God’s timing. Thankfully, God still brings into completion his side of all contracts despite human failings. Abraham, with prompting from his wife (also a contractee) manufactures a loophole in the blessing.
Instead of waiting for the promise to come to birth, Abraham attempts to do it in his own terms, by producing a child with Hagar. Effectively starting the war between two sons’ descendants–Israel (Isaac) and Islam (Ishmael). Two children whose blessing is a big burden. Both equally blessed by their Father’s God with a multitude of descendants who, because of that same father’s sin, will be at war against each other until the end of days.
The burden with the blessing. The burden ultimately comes from the inability humans seem to have on completely trusting God’s promises and causing problems with our bumbling. The blessing was pure: Isaac was promised in God’s timing. Abraham’s line was set up to be gloriously long. But, he couldn’t wait, because his faith just wasn’t strong enough. So, the contract had a human sized hole punched through it, causing God to do what he promised twice. Ishmael equally received the inheritance of being Abraham’s son.
God does not lie. He promised Abraham that his children would outnumber the sand on the shore. That means to completely fulfill his part of the contract, God had to bless each child from Abraham’s loins equally.
This burden of blessings, can be seen in the interactions of Isreal the nation with God as well. You first start to see the inkling of the difficulties that Isaac’s children will face before he is even born. Genesis 15:13 says, Then the LORD said to Abram, “Know this for certain: Your offspring will be foreigners in a land that does not belong to them; they will be enslaved and oppressed 400 years.”
To be called out as different from the surrounding tribes would have been a heavy burden to carry. The very customs God wanted them to use were to declare them set apart. Isreal was to be an example of righteousness, and in that to be a shining light for the pagans to see.
When Moses came on the scene, he was part of Abraham’s blessing and a bearer of a renewing of the blessing on Abraham’s descendants. With the renewing additional blessings were handed down, along with a more refined covenant. The covenant though was still very closely related to the original blessing, but because it was dealing with a much larger contractee/ person group the language was much more defined. The 10 Commandments along with cultural laws were shared between God and the Hebrew people.
These laws were set literally in stone to show the Hebrew people exactly how different God was calling them to be. But, once again, God asked if the people were really willing to follow the very strict rules he was giving. Exodus 19:5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples ….And they promised they were willing. Not once! But twice! Exodus 19:8 All the people answered together and said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do.” Even in the midst of worshipping a man made cow, they said they were willing to follow the rules.
So the blessing was given. The burden was felt. In an effort to be considered truly different from the surrounding tribes, the Israelites were in essence, declaring a cultural war. The God they worshipped became a feared unknown entity to the enemy.
The burden is truly felt when other nations attacked them on the battlefront. Or, when God disciplined the Hebrew people because they were choosing not to fulfill their part of the agreement. The burden is felt when God has them dispersed over the centuries on a number of occasions to remind them of his blessings. Through slavery and homelessness, God reminds his people that he alone is their resting place and their salvation. The blessing can indeed be heavy.
Then we jump to the New Covenant because God’s Son completely fulfills all aspects of the old contract, not just the promises that God puts forth but the human side as well.
Jesus Christ brings into complete fruition all parts of the original agreement between the Divine and Abraham. Along with all the renewing contracts with Abraham’s descendants. God does not null and void one little bit of the blessing.
God knew that we humans could not fulfill our side of the blessing contract even when we tried our hardest. So, instead of ripping up the agreement –or suing us– as is his right as the Contractor, God instead keeps not only his side of the promise, but ours as well! He provides the ultimate form of our agreed upon service – faith and trust- in his Son, who trusts his father so much that he died to complete the blessing.
Because God does not lie or cheat, he made sure his contract -blessing- was 100% fulfilled. He provided the means to make sure it happened. No loopholes.
The blessing of a baby was a heavy burden for Jesus’ mother Mary. Because of her righteousness, she was deemed worthy.
Mary’s burden was difficult. Even if you ignored the fact that she was an unwed mother at conception, she was literally giving birth to a child that she was going to have to see die. Her burden was of the heart, she was going to have sacrifice her little boy as a man on a cross. As a devout Jew, she would have known that her child was going to face something horrible. She and Joseph would not have been naive in the raising of their son. The blessing would probably have been a very heavy burden, but not nearly as heavy as when she kneeled in front of her bleeding, gasping for air, tortured, precious little baby boy who was taking on the sins of the world as he was nailed to the Cross.
The heaviness of the blessing must have driven her to the ground.
I think, to truly appreciate God’s blessings, we must feel the burden of them. God’s blessings should not feel light and airy, because I don’t think we recognize the significance of what he is giving us.
There are sayings about trials being blessings in disguise. Or that the struggle to get where you are now was actually a blessing because, now, you know you appreciate what you have.
Perhaps, to receive God’s blessing, we need to sacrifice our comfort to be a part of the contract. We live in a sin riddled world and our own sins affect the way we interact with God. We will continually fail in keeping our side of the agreement, but we are called to keep trying. Our faith and trust in God are the services we must render to fully appreciate God’s blessing.
Thankfully, God does not search for loopholes like we do. He does not void our contract every time we slip up. Instead, unlike human contractors, God fulfills both sides of the agreement.
But. We will be held accountable for our services. God is no push over. He made a promise to Abraham’s descendants. He made a promise to the world at the death of his Son, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) But remember, God, especially in his love, will hold us accountable for that which we have not done.
You cannot partake of God’s blessing if you do not enter into the contract with him. He cannot force you to sign on the dotted line, accepting the burden of his blessing.
I honestly believe that if asked, Abraham, Moses, and Mary would all say the burden is heavy, but the blessing is glorious. And very worth it.
So, the next time you wish for God’s blessings on an endeavor, think. Are you willing to shoulder the burden that comes with it? Are you willing to truly sacrifice your comfort to sign on the dotted line of working with God?
I might have to remind myself throughout the trials and probable suffering that the world will use to make me attempt to find a loophole in my contract, but I want to be part of God’s blessing. I want to feel the weight of the burden of proof of God’s consuming love.
I want to fulfill my side of the contract.
So I have to remember, as the world knocks me to my knees, the blessing might be a heavy burden some times, but oh, it is so worth it.