Blessings or Blessedness: Helping Teens Through the Pandemic

By Rick Wilcox

There is a certain line of thinking that goes “If I am in God’s will, He will bless me.” Sounds logical, right? It is so fundamental, we raise our children on this principle – do good, get rewarded, do bad, get punished. The problem, of course, is that we equate blessing with ease and prosperity. To many, blessings are material rewards. It is much harder to reconcile that doing God’s will can also result in abandonment by friends, physical distress, and social unpopularity. Death isn’t out of the question.  Where is good in all of that?

The church was born in hardship. When Jesus ascended to heaven, He commanded His followers to take the gospel to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8) and they obeyed. The fact that they quickly ran into so much trouble only affirmed that Jesus was right – this broken world needs saving.

In the early days of the church, the Apostle Paul traveled far to share the gospel with both Jews and Gentiles. His message of good news was the same as the angles proclaimed at Jesus’ birth: God has come to save us. There were many who received this news with joy, but there were also some who were jealous and attacked Paul for disrupting the status quo. During Paul’s first missionary journey, he was stoned in the city of Lystra and left for dead (Acts 14).

Fortunately, Paul was not deterred and continued his ministry for another twenty years, suffering many persecutions along the way. At the end of his ministry, he wrote a letter to his protégée, Timothy, a young man at the beginning of his career. From a Roman prison cell just prior to his execution, he referenced the stoning that happened years before, saying this:

“You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.  2 Timothy 3:10-17

The wise apostle knew Timothy would have many trials ahead, and he told him not to be surprised or alarmed when they came. He told him to lean on the truth of God’s word and to remember who he was and how he had been raised. He surely was referring to his own instructions to Timothy, but at the beginning of the letter he also said this:

“I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well." 2 Timothy 1:5

What lessons will our children learn from the pandemic we are currently enduring? They may remember great hardship including isolation, loneliness, and perhaps the job loss of a parent. Some will remember sickness and the death of a loved one. The fortunate ones will also remember to the example of faith set by their parents and grandparents as they held fast to the promises of the Father who said to be strong and courageous because He would never leave us or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6.)

We must remember that children want to know two things from their parents: Do you love me, and what are you made of? These are the days of lasting impressions. Let’s teach our children that blessedness is more important than blessings. Blessings are circumstantial, but blessedness is eternal because it is based on our secure relationship to our Savior.

Take a moment and read this powerful passage from Romans. Better yet, read it aloud to your children and let the words resonate deeply in your heart.

Romans 8:18–39

Future Glory
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. 19 For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. 24 For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

God’s Everlasting Love
What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,

“For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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