What is a blessing?

Ah, the smell of my son is like the smell of a field that the Lord has blessed. May God give you of the dew of heaven, and of the fatness of the earth, and plenty of grain and wine. -Genesis 27:27-28

Dear members and friends,

The word “blessing” is defined as 1. a prayer asking for God’s favor and protection, 2. a beneficial thing for which one is grateful; something that brings well-being or, 3. a person’s sanction or support. In the Bible, the blessing is often used in the context of either asking for or receiving “God’s favor and protection.” The very first time that “blessings” is used in the Bible is in Genesis 12:2, “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.” The Hebrew word for “to bless” is barak, which can be translated as to bless or to kneel. In the ancient context, if you were to kneel before someone, it meant not only that you submit yourself as lower than the one before you, but also that you are willing to risk your own life in expressing such a statement. What this Hebrew word might suggest is that the blessing of God is not a free gift, but a consequential result of a mutual relationship between a human and God. 

In the story of Esau and Jacob, Jacob steals the blessing that his father, Isaac, planned to bestow upon Esau. However, the consequence of such an action was that Jacob had to run away from his home empty handed and journey to his uncle in Haran, which was about 660 miles away. To feel the difficulty of this journey, imagine walking alone in the time when wild animals roamed the earth for about 14 days. One big lesson we all can learn from this story is that asking and taking the blessing of God is one thing, but actualizing the blessing of God is an entirely different matter, often requiring a long and painful process of cultivation. This truth is confirmed by stories in the Bible that the blessing of God is never actualized into one’s life without a challenging journey such as in the lives of Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua and even King David. 

My family in God, please understand that the blessing of God is not an unconditional free gift that is granted by a simple request, but rather a consequential result of a long and challenging journey, which is often initiated by our willingness to accept what is of God and to follow the guidance of God.

Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee