I just read an article stating that over 3 million Americans filed for unemployment this past week. That’s a staggering number, breaking records from the previous years; most likely, those numbers will increase in the coming weeks. Some of our readers may be included in these statistics. This brings to mind a question: If you lose your job, are you still blessed by God? Can you still be blessed, even in the midst of suffering and hardship? Or, does heartbreak mean you are no longer blessed by God?
According to Psalm 1, blessing arises, not from circumstance but by choice:
“Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.” (1-2)
We are blessed, despite our surroundings, if we meditate on the word of God and avoid sinful lifestyles. This doesn’t mean that we merit the Lord’s blessing, but that we receive his blessed way—given by his grace—by choice. It also means that someone might be materially prosperous and successful in this present world, and yet be cursed rather than blessed. Present circumstance doesn’t equal eternal blessing; eventually the wicked will eat the fruit of their way:
“He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.” (v. 3-4)
Notice, the blessed man yields his harvest “in its season.” That is, for a while, it may appear to outsiders that he is not blessed (i.e. there is no fruit on the branches). Yet, because his roots are deeply planted in the life-giving river of God’s word, the deliberate progress of his life is one of enduring success. Wickedness is fleeting because it isn’t real; sin is a distortion of reality. Because of this, “The world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of the Lord abides forever” (1 John 2:17).
The heart of the blessings that we receive are seen in the final verses of the Psalm:
“Therefore, the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
for the Lord knows the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked will perish.”
This is the heart of blessing: that we are known by God. Regardless of circumstance or struggle, “The Lord has been mindful of me.”