James 1:12 – Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
In Luke 1:42, as Mary prepares to give birth to Jesus, Elizabeth her that she’s “blessed among women” but, looking at the remainder of her life, it might be hard to see how she could be called blessed.
She lived her life as a poor, rural peasant and gave birth to Jesus as a virgin before she and Joseph were even married. One can only imagine the ridicule and whispers she faced growing up in a small town under such circumstances, trying to explain that she indeed had not been unfaithful to her future husband, who was most likely also a teenager.
At some point before Jesus’ crucifixion, it’s assumed by most that Joseph died and that Mary was a widow. He was mentioned when Jesus was younger and then wasn’t mentioned again throughout the rest of Scripture.
Then, her oldest son Jesus grows up to be ridiculed, mocked, and, ultimately, killed publicly in one of the most horrific ways on the cross. Later on, her other sons, including James, are killed for being followers of Jesus, her firstborn. She buries not only her husband but several of her children.
It could be tough to look at all of these circumstances and think of her as “blessed among women”. This is increasingly more trials than most, thankfully, have to bear.
As a pastor, I have had a sacred front row seat for the best and worst days of people’s lives. I have been at the hospital when a baby is born, only to then preach their funeral some months later. I have officiated a wedding and then sat on a hospital floor with a groom as he was praying that his beloved bride would survive a brain aneurism. Life on this planet is so tough that no one makes it out alive. I am deeply and profoundly sorry for all that you have been through and whatever you are enduring today.
Sometimes a blessing is wrapped in crucifixion. Other times, it’s wrapped in cancer, or a divorce, or unemployment. The words of Romans 8:28 ring true: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” He will use our trials to benefit His Kingdom and bless others in their trials.
How has God used your blessings to benefit and bless others?