The LORD has been mindful of us; She will bless us; She will bless the house of Israel; She will bless the house of Aaron; She will bless those who stand in awe of the LORD, both small and great. May the LORD give you increase, both you and your children. May you be blessed by the LORD, who made heaven and earth. - Psalm 115
The other day I was riding a tandem bike to pick up my young daughter from summer camp. Free as a bird, I zoomed down a busy urban thoroughfare, feeling as sleek and strong as a pre-fall-from-grace Lance Armstrong.
Then, crashing metal noises, skidding and sparks. The tandem bike, which 5 minutes later my daughter would have been sitting on, had fallen off and careened into traffic. The pin tethering it to my bike had fallen out.
I scooped up the tandem bike, breathless with adrenaline, and sat on the curb to collect myself and quiet the "what ifs" crowding my mind, first among them, "What if it had fallen off after I picked her up?"
Some of us are fond of chalking up everything that goes our way to God's blessing. The near miss. The good vacation weather. The raise, the house, the healthy newborn! We have won the Holy Lottery. God, in Her beneficence, has smiled upon us.
But what about the people who sit in the rain their whole vacation long, their whole life long? What about the mother whose daughter was sitting on the tandem bike when the pin came out? Does God not love them? Has God chosen not to bless them? I don't believe in this God. I'll bet you don't, either.
Here's what I believe: there's luck, and there's blessing, and it's virtually impossible to tell which is which. (There's also plain-old privilege, but that's another devotional!).
Since I can never tell the difference, I hedge my bets and silently thank God for everything good that comes my way, knowing She'll sort it out. The practice of acknowledging God in good times paves the road so that the bad-times potholes don't seem so deep or so wide.
And out loud, in the hearing of others who might be down on their luck, I don't give thanks that God has blessed me. I give thanks that I get to bless God, no matter what is going on.
For a great song that might inspire you to "bless the Lord at all times, cuz God's Good," click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a7TP5ZSqF1w
God, Holy Linchpin, thank you for blessing us in good times and staying with us through hard times. Thank you for living in both the summer sky and the potholes, and in neighbors who arrive in the nick of time with strong, sturdy replacement bolts. Thank you for our children, who mean so much to us that they keep our hearts on the edge of breaking, all the time, just as You would have it. Amen.
Molly Baskette is Senior Minister at First Church Somerville UCC, in Somerville, Massachusetts.