I am blessed to be a blessing.
In Genesis 12:1-2, we read "Now the Lord said to Abram, 'Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.'"
Likewise, any blessing I am given is meant so that I can bless others with it. In a world with an "all about me" attitude, this is countercultural, but it's what the Bible teaches.
But what is a blessing anyway? And are hard things like sickness blessings?
While thoughts of good health, a well-paying job, and kind family and friends might be the first things that come to mind for most when thinking of blessings, I believe that some blessings come in disguise. And I do consider my chronic illnesses to be blessings because of the good things that have resulted from them.
There are many Scriptures about the blessings that result from trials, but Romans 5:3-5 is one of my favorites, "Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 also says, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God."
A few years ago, I heard a message from Sinclair Ferguson that greatly changed the way I view my chronic illnesses. Ferguson was teaching on the Biblical story of Joseph and pointed out that when suffering we often become self-centered, only asking what God is doing in our lives, rather than how He is using our circumstances in the lives of others. He said that when God works in a suffering person’s life it's not because he's obsessed with that person. It's because he's obsessed with how he wants to use that person and make him or her a blessing to others. Joseph was sold into slavery in Egypt by his envious brothers, but ultimately, it lead to him becoming governor of Egypt and saving many people from famine.
When I first became ill, I often asked, "God, what are you doing in my life, and why am I sick?" I was rather self-centered, and I still struggle with this. But I have slowly been learning to instead ask, "How can I use my life with sickness to bless others?" My illnesses keep me in bed most of the time, but it’s resulted in me finding creative ways to serve, such as donating handmade cards and crafts to nursing homes, running my online art store, posting my photography to social media, and sharing my story through writing to point others to the comfort, joy, and hope I have in Christ.
As Joseph told his brothers, "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today." (Genesis 50:20)
So, dear reader, please remember the story of Joseph. Let it remind you that God is always working in a variety of circumstances and in a variety of people to accomplish a story that is so much bigger than yourself and so much bigger than you could imagine. As John Piper says, “God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, and you may be aware of three of them.”
We are like rocks thrown into the water that produce a ripple effect. And God wants to use us to be a blessing to others.