“Blessed are the poor in spirit because the kingdom of heaven is theirs. Blessed are those who mourn because they will be comforted. Blessed are the gentle because they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness because they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful because they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart because they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers because they will be called the sons of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness because the kingdom of heaven is theirs. Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute and falsely say every kind of evil against you because of Me.” Matthew 5:3-11 Holman Christian Standard Bible
“receiving God’s favor, fortunate, good (in a position of favor), happy (feelings associated with receiving God’s favor)…” The Strongest NIV Exhaustive Concordance
The literal root of the Latin word benedicere is broken into two parts: 1) bene which means well, saying good things of someone, and 2) dicto which means speaking.
“Without affirmation, it is hard to live well. To give someone a blessing is the most significant affirmation we can offer. It is more than a word of praise or appreciation; it is more than pointing out someone’s talents or good deeds; it is more than putting someone in the light. To give a blessing is to affirm, to say “yes” to a person’s Belovedness. And more than that: To give a blessing creates the reality of which it speaks.” (The Life of the Beloved, pg. 69, Henri Nouwen)
Several years ago, Joni and I were introduced to a book titled “The Five Love Languages” written by Gary Chapman. In his book, Dr. Chapman outlined the 5 essential ways people experience love: 1) Meaningful Touch, 2) Quality Time, 3) Acts of Service, 4) Gifts, and my all time favorite, 5) Words of Affirmation.
We all experience love through each of these avenues, however, we will have at least one or possibly two that will be our dominant Love Language(s). Mine, for example, is Words of Affirmation. There is absolutely no doubt about it. The best way to gauge which of the languages of love speaks most clearly to you is to take a test. Another possibility is to think about what is it you do to let others know you love them. My love language is so dominant there was no mistaking it for any other! Personally, I often wish it were any of the other four; it isn’t easy living and dying by the sword of words!
Nouwen points out what could easily be theorized as the symbiotic relationship between blessing (affirmation) and Belovedness. Our being the Beloved and our process of becoming the Beloved need the reality that comes with affirming words, words that remind us of our Father God’s passion and intimacy for us, His Beloved! This was first revealed as reality in that garden of perfection where the disease of rebellion entered, twisting the words of God into lies which deceived. This cowardly act on the part of God’s enemy created a rift, the separation between the Creator and the created. In turn, this installed in humanity a basic distrust of anything we find difficult to understand, those things which our self-rejection tell us cannot be real!
“The blessings that we give to each other are expressions of the blessings that rest on us from all eternity. It is the deepest affirmation of our true self. It is not enough to be chosen. We also need an ongoing blessing that allows us to hear in an ever new way that we belong to a loving God who will never leave us alone, but will remind us always that we are guided by love every step of our lives.” (ibid pg.72)
Over and over God reveals to us, in myriads of ways, that He never leaves us nor forsakes us, not because of what we can do, but because He has chosen us as His Beloved. And as His Beloved, we are unique in all of Creation. Among all the billions of galaxies, the multi-billions of planets, the innumerable solar systems, nowhere does there reside any who can be called the Beloved of the Creator in the same way as we can. Here on this planet of the broken, the dysfunctional, the planet of darkness, the inhabitants are connected to the Creator in ways no other being ever will be. As the Beloved of the Creator, we share with Him the knowledge of good and evil. As inhabitants of this world plunged into the destruction of the rebellion, we know better than anyone just what it has cost our Father and ourselves!
So how do we hear this Blessing, and how do we access the power supply that infiltrates the intimate areas of our lives? How do they fill us with the truth of our Belovedness, of our blessedness, both of which flow from the love and grace of our Creator Father? Nouwen suggests two disciplines for claiming our blessedness.
“First of all, prayer. For me personally, prayer becomes more and more a way to listen to the blessing. … the real work of prayer is to become silent and listen to the voice that says good things about me. This might sound self-indulgent, but, in practice, it is a hard discipline.” (ibid pp.75,76)
“My second suggestion for claiming your blessedness is the cultivation of presence. By presence, I mean attentiveness to the blessings that come to you day after day, year after year. It is not easy for us, busy people, to truly receive a blessing. Perhaps the fact that few people offer a real blessing is the sad result of the absence of people who are willing and able to receive such a blessing.” (ibid pg. 79)
Jesus was quite direct in telling us the only place we could live is in the present. It is quite interesting to discover that blessings and the process of becoming the beloved also reside in the present. And how could it be any other way? Yesterday is history; it’s gone, one for the books, a done deal, a time frame only God has the ability to change or adjust if He so desires! And tomorrow doesn’t even exist, so how can anyone live somewhere that isn’t?
We are left with just one place where we are able to live, the here and now, the present, the time God ordained as our place to experience Him in all His love and grace. It is in the here and now we discover our Blessedness and Belovedness! It is in the presence of the present that we find the Presence of the One who creates our Blessedness and makes us the Beloved no matter what we think, or see, or feel
“The characteristic of the blessed ones is that, whoever they go, they always speak words of blessing. It is remarkable how easy it is to bless others, to speak good things to and about them, to call forth their beauty and truth, when you are in touch with your own blessedness. The blessed one always blesses. And people want to be blessed!” (ibid pg. 82)
“…but Jacob stayed behind, left alone in his distress and doubt. In the twilight of his anguish, an unknown man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw he was not winning the battle with Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was thrown out of joint as he continued to wrestle with him.
Man: ‘Let me go; the dawn is breaking.’
Jacob: ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’”
Genesis 32:24-26 The Voice
“And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, ‘Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!’ So God granted him what he requested.” 1 Chronicles 4:10 New King James Version