“For You make him to be blessed and a blessing forever; You make him exceedingly glad with the joy of Your presence.”
Psalm 21: 6
I have a piano.
I have young children.
I’m trusting you can fill in blanks, use your imagination, put two and two together and figure out what all that means.
A few months ago, I sat down to play a song and noticed a key was sticking. By the second page of music, the key wasn’t sticking anymore; it was downright stuck. Beautiful notes . . . beautiful notes . . . beautiful notes . . . thunk.
This has made my musical life difficult.
Then, there are the piano lessons for these young daughters of mine. The offending key is not one of the mostly unnecessary ivories on the end of the keyboard. Oh no; it is an oh-so-necessary note for any song not in C position. So, I pulled out method book upon method book, recital books, beaten up and falling apart books covered in pencil marks from when I first learned to play. My daughter played every single song in C position I owned on this overstuffed musical shelf of mine. All this to avoid the offending key.
Finally, I broke down and called about repairs. I held my breath waiting to hear how much this fix-it job would cost and then I heard the magic word: Free.
Free I tell you!! The manufacturer recalled the keyboard on this piano because of sticky keys. And so I danced around my living room and gave thanks to God for this blessing. This tiny kiss from God and sweet reminder that He cares not just about the heavy burdens I carry, but also the daily annoyances and petty frustrations.
It’s a moment of visibility, the clear and unmistakable hand of God even when we are busy and rushed and overwhelmed. It’s a flash of His glory amidst darkness, making us breathless with the beautiful and captivating mercy of it all.
But, then there are the not-so-visible blessings. The ones we must squint to see or perhaps can only be seen in flashbacks. While we’re in the pit and trapped in the mire, God’s hand is invisible, His blessings unclear. Yet, when God has lifted us up, washed us clean, taken our hand and led us forward on the journey, we can then throw a glance at the past and see the shadows of grace and blessing that we missed before.
Sometimes we know a blessing when we see it; sometimes we don’t.
Genesis 49 tells a story of blessing. Aged Jacob calls his 11 sons to his side to tell them “what will happen . . . in days to come” (Genesis 49:1). One by one, Jacob blesses each son.
Some of those words are obvious blessings. Like for Judah: “The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet” (Genesis 49:10). And for Zebulun: “will live by the seashore and become a haven for ships; his border will extend toward Sidon (Genesis 49:13). And for Joseph: “Your father’s blessings are greater than the blessings of the ancient mountains, than the bounty of the age-old hills. Let all these rest on the head of Joseph, on the brow of the prince among his brothers(Genesis 49:26).
Then there are other prophecies for other sons. Commentator Bruce Waltke called these “antiblessings.”
Like for Reuben:”Turbulent as the waters, you will no longer excel” (Genesis 49:4). And for Simeon and Levi: “Cursed be their anger, so fierce, and their fury, so cruel! I will scatter them in Jacob and disperse them in Israel” (Genesis 49:7).
Antiblessings. Maybe they even sound like curses from a dying father to his sons. And yet blessings they are called.
Have you ever walked through something that seemed like a curse, only to find later it was truly a blessing?
Bruce Waltke explained:
In terms of the nation’s destiny these antiblessings are a blessing. By demoting Reuben for his turbulence and uncontrolled sex drive, Jacob saves Israel from reckless leadership. Likewise, by cursing the cruelty of Simeon and Levi, he restricts their cruel rashness from dominating.
Beth Moore in The Patriarchs says, “We might call these blessings of restriction. . . .Both what we receive and what we don’t receive can constitute blessings for us and those around us. God is all-wise. He blesses us as surely by what He does not grant as what He does.”
I have received these blessings that are only visible in memory. At 13, I decided where I would go to college. I worked. I saved my money. Years passed and I reluctantly applied to other schools along with this college, fully believing those extra applications were simply a waste of time and money. I only toured my dream school. I auditioned for the piano teacher of my choice. I sought out a mentor in the Theory and Composition Department. I went to the open house.
And then, I couldn’t go. It was a resounding, clear “No” in the most nearly audible voice I have ever heard from God.
It seemed like a curse. He didn’t give me the “desire of my heart.” I was depressed, lost, confused, broken. Listlessly, I started classes at the one college I simply did not want to attend.
And I grew. I changed my major. I met my husband. My career path altered.
Abundant blessings grew out of the antiblessing.
Has God told you, “No?” Has He delayed in giving you what you’ve asked for? Have you been buried in circumstances that seem like curses?
Maybe that’s what you’re living through now or maybe it’s what you’ve experienced in the past. Either way, it may be hard to see a purpose or plan in all of this.
Allow God to peel back the layers of hurt and frustration and reveal underneath all of that the blessing that’s so hard to see. Ask Him to open your eyes to see His grace at work even in heartache and loss. It’s there, my friend, the blessing, though hidden perhaps, is there. “Salvation belongs to the Lord; May Your blessing be upon Your people” (Psalm 3: 8)
Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer for www.myfrienddebbie.com and worship leader. Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness. To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.