By Scott Hilgendorff / Cowboys of the Cross

What do we really mean when we say we’re “blessed” or use the #Blessed hashtag?

For most of us, we actually mean we’re thankful for what we have.

When we use the word, “blessed” the wrong way, our intentions are absolutely good, but we run the risk of confusing people about the love God has for them.

If you just won the bull riding, barrel race or team roping, the first instinct of most cowboy and cowgirls is to acknowledge how blessed they are to say what a blessing it was. We say that about most anything that impacts us positively, not realizing that someone who is struggling and going through one of the trials God can let us experience can be left wondering what they’ve done wrong, why God doesn’t seem them as worthy of a break or wonder if they have any faith.

For someone who doesn’t already believe in God or is struggling to understand the Christian faith, it can leave them very confused about whether or not God loves or even cares about that.

We want them to come to a saving faith in Jesus, so we do have to take the confusion this can cause very seriously.

Some of us overlook the verses about finding joy in trials or the sermon on the mount that tells us we’re blessed when we struggle and most of us don’t understand that the struggles we face are opportunities to experience God’s blessing because at their root is an opportunity to seek God’s strength and wisdom and ultimately grow closer to Him. That is a true blessing.

But when we recognize it was through God that we received the gifts, the wins, the successes and every good thing we have, what we need to express is our thanks.

The Bible is filled with Scripture about finding joy in the Lord and being thankful. Here are three verses that describe a thankful heart just from Psalms:

Psalm 7:17 I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.

Psalm 9:1 “I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.”

Psalm 118: 29 “Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, his love endures forever.”

And in Ephesians, Paul is encouraging in this part of his letter to the church in Ephesus that they avoid sin, celebrate the Lord with joy and then encourages them to be thankful in everything.

Ephesians 5:20 Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

We see Paul encourage thankfulness again in Philippians to his letter to that church as well, encouraging us not to worry but to trust God and always be prayerful and thankful in every situation.

Philippians 4: 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.

That again points us to how there can be good in a struggle and how by changing the language we use when we’re thankful, we can help others to understand blessings can both be wonderful gifts from God but can come through struggles and hardship.

By working to start using the term, “thankful” we can remind ourselves to be thankful to God in all our circumstances, we can point others to the joy we have in our saving faith in Jesus when they see our thankfulness in the good and what we might see as ‘bad’ until we realize God is using that for His purpose and our ultimate good.

1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 16 Rejoice always,17 pray continually,18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

#Thankful for God challenging us through His word.

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