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By Darrick Young

LeBron James, Cam Newton, and Lindsey Vonn are. So is Justin Timberlake and his pal Jimmy Fallon. Same for Oprah. Taylor Swift? Ditto. Most of your friends on social media have been at one time or another, too. What do all of these people have in common? They’re all #blessed.

The blessed hashtag has been a staple of the social media world for a while now. Whenever a celebrity wins a big game or an award, they are #blessed. When your sister-in-law got her kitchen remodeled, she was #blessed. When your college roommate got his dream job, he was #blessed too.

At its core, there’s nothing really wrong with being #blessed. It’s an acknowledgment at some level that you are fortunate to be getting what you got or happy with what’s happening in your life. There’s nothing wrong with that, and it’s definitely better than being #stressed or #bloated.

But this morning I was reading the Sermon on the Mount from the Gospel of Matthew and I ran into the “Beatitudes.” These are a series of statements that Jesus made that all start out with the words “Blessed are those…” (Apparently Jesus doesn’t use hashtags.) Here are some of the people that Jesus says are #blessed: the poor in spirit, the mourners, the humble, the people who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the merciful, the pure in heart, those who work for peace, and the persecuted.

There isn’t a success story in the bunch. This sounds like a list of forgettable people struggling to get by. How in the world could they be considered #blessed? What is it that would cause Jesus to say these things? I don’t think Jesus was confused. I think He was intentionally teaching His closest followers something incredibly important, something they would need to grasp if they were going to follow Him for the rest of their lives. Jesus was unhitching blessing (God’s favor and purpose) from feelings and circumstance.

In other words, blessing is not about what’s happening in the moment. It’s not the new car smell, my kid making All-State Choir, or the picture of everything I got for Christmas that I posted on Facebook that makes me #blessed. The kind of blessing that Jesus offered His followers (and me and you) is not dependent on the situation or the moment. It is set apart from and supersedes my circumstances. It is joy in the middle of suffering, hope at a time of loss, and peace when everything around me is in upheaval.

Listen to what Jesus says blesses those who don’t seem so blessed: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3-10).

There are two things that I find hopeful in these promises from Christ. First, Jesus promises that my situation today isn’t forever and that I can look forward to an incredible inheritance. Second, when I lean into Jesus and His Kingdom, I am no longer responsible for my blessedness – He is. He will comfort me. He will fulfill me. He will show me mercy. Now that’s #blessed.

About The Author

Darrick Young

Darrick Young serves as the lead pastor for Journey Church in Johnston, Iowa, and the church planting director for Open Bible’s Central Region. He and his wife, Ranada, have two children and reside in Grimes, Iowa.