Blessed are those who get their kids ready on time, without raising their voices, and make a well-balanced breakfast with foods they got at the farmers market.
Blessed are those who have lots of energy, who feel up to the task, and who say yes a lot.
Blessed are the self-confident and capable, who are aware of their gifts and get to use them in all kinds of welcomed ways.
Blessed are those that get regular leisure; who rightly prioritize self-care and whose kids always sleep through the night.
Blessed are those who are not needy, who self-protect, who avoid messy situations and complicated people, who never get in a conflict.
Blessed are the ones who get to travel a lot, who have plenty because of financial security.
Blessed are the ones who always have a crowd of fun, dynamic people around them, who have a prominent seat at the table.
Blessed are the ones who have a ton of friends, lots of likes on Instagram, and plans every weekend.
Blessed are you when you are honored for your spirituality and get credit for the sacrificial things you do for others (and Jesus, of course).

The expectations I can have for a day (or for my life) are not all that unrealistic. I have had days that are dreamy and I have had the blissful feeling of being in the right place at the right time with the right people and it has all gone just…right. Those things are not bad or the opposite of true Life. Those moments and seasons are gifts. What really creates a feeling of barrenness in the heart is walking through the day with hands outstretched reaching for those things, a blessing that may never come. I fight for it with blood, sweat, and tears. At the end of the day, I have empty hands and painful emotions. Those empty hands symbolize feelings of: I did something wrong, I am missing out, I am off track. Much of my disappointment or discouragement, even some of my loneliness is a result of hoping for a version of blessing that is not really promised me at all. Not only is it not promised, it is not even the things that make for fulfillment in life.

Deep down we have this awareness that we are supposed to experience blessing. Abundant life, joy, peace, God’s favor and presence. Not because we deserve it, but because we were created for it.

So right now I am searching these beliefs deep in the belly of my soul. I have been reading Genesis and one of the themes that is hard to ignore is the idea of blessing. It has me asking questions about God’s blessing in the Old Testament and thinking about what Jesus taught about blessing in the New Testament. Jesus once gave a discourse on life and the Kingdom to a group of people on a hillside. Fellow Jewish people with stories of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in their minds. People with the brutal reality of Roman rule all around them. People with hearts needing hope just like our hearts need hope today.

Even though I have read these words before, even memorized these words before, I was stunned once again by the simplicity and beauty of God’s generous love. Matthew chapter 5 met a deep craving in me for God’s favor, His life-giving presence that is real and true and found even in the midst of pain. Jesus poetically and poignantly defines blessing like this:

Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me…great is your reward in heaven…

Jesus just opened wide the possibility of peace and joy to those that experience the rough realities of a broken life in a broken world. The pure in heart and the humble are promised blessing. The blessing I often hope for is wrong. In Jesus, we can be blessed in the very places that we would never expect. In the middle of a battle with cancer. Rejected and lonely. Misunderstood. Ready for a family while being without a spouse and/or children. Bored and unappreciated in an office cubicle. Far from home and waiting to belong and be understood. Overwhelmed with complex problems that seem to have no answers. Those waiting, open hands get filled.

Wherever life finds you today, in this particular moment, hear this. The specific blessings that He longs to give you in the midst of life right now from Matthew 5:3-12 (my paraphrase):

The beautiful reality of Jesus is available to you.
You will be warmly embraced to ease the pain.
God’s creative abundance will be bestowed on you.
That ache for the beautiful way of Jesus will be satisfied.
God will bend low to meet you where you are at.
Your eyes will be filled with more Beauty, Love, and Light than you can imagine.
You will belong and have your own seat at the table.
You are celebrated as a champion, surrounded by other champions.

Our life holds all manner of small frustrations and big sufferings. We are not guaranteed smooth sailing or recognition or fast solutions or dream jobs. But as I sit in these words, I see in print everything I really, truly long for. What my hands wait outstretched for. Each day, each moment, and every interaction, we can own the awareness, the identity of being blessed. God’s favor resting on us and His presence surrounding us. Our hands and our hearts full. We are a blessed people.