Not as Blessed as My Neighbors, Apparently

Not as Blessed as My Neighbors, Apparently

March 16, 2014
Written by Steven Liechty

Dear Theo,

Can you explain what it means to say you are "blessed?" I have one child who has a disability, and it always feels like a slap in the face when people, knowing my situation, say they were blessed with healthy children. Are only the healthy and wealthy blessed? Or are they lucky? And what is the difference?

Not as blessed as my neighbors, apparently


Dear Not as Blessed,

You've gone and done it: asked a theological question that is darn-near unanswerable.

Perhaps this will help: see below a reprise of a UCC Daily Devotional, Lucky or Blessed?

Bless you, and may you be a blessing,


Lucky or Blessed?

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.

14 May the Lord give you increase,
   both you and your children.

15 May you be blessed by the Lord,
   who made heaven and earth.

The heavens are the Lord's heavens,
   but the earth He has given to human beings.

17 The dead do not praise the Lord,
   nor do any that go down into silence.

18 But we will bless the Lord
   from this time on and forevermore.

Praise the Lord!

~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.

Prayer 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.

Got life problems? Got God problems? Ask Dear Theo.

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"Dear Theo" is written anonymously by four UCC ministers of different ages and backgrounds. We welcome questions spanning all kinds of topics: from sexuality and relationships to church culture and conflict to mental health, family drama, ethical and moral dilemmas...and everything in between.

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