As it is with every fourth Thursday in November, Thanksgiving is a time to reflect and give thanks for the blessings we have. When considering our blessings, we typically think of things like family, friends, health and our wealth.
"I want to become an athlete of influence!"
As athletes consider their specific blessings, we often first think of them in the context of our sports. Being injury free, competing at a high level, being a part of a championship team or having the best facilities to train at are a few examples. While these are most definitely blessings, blessings that we should give thanks to God for, the idea of the Christian athlete’s blessings goes beyond our tangible and material blessings.
A pastor of mine once said, “Will the blessings of God determine my lot and direct my praise, or will the God of blessing determine my lot and direct my praise?”
In other words, what is the criteria we are using when saying we are “blessed?” Is our status as blessed dependent on what we have, or is it dependent on whom we know?
What about the individual who has a fractured family dynamic, lacks many close friends, has cancer, or is in extreme poverty? What about the athlete who has suffered a season-ending or even a career-ending injury, sits at the end of the bench on a losing team, or has no access to the needed facilities to train properly? Are those individuals still blessed?
Ultimately, what determines our status as blessed has nothing to do with any earthly criteria we may associate with the word. Being someone who is truly blessed is dependent on knowing and having a relationship with Jesus. Paul tells us in Ephesians that in Jesus, we have “every spiritual blessing.”
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing…" (Ephesians 1:3).
Those blessings include:
- Being holy and blameless before Him (1:4)
- Adoption as sons and daughters (1:5)
- Redemption, forgiveness, grace (1:7)
- An inheritance (1:11,14)
- Salvation (1:13)
- The gift of the Holy Spirit (1:15)
These are just some of the blessings that we have in Christ, blessings that will long outlast the things we would categorize as blessings in this life.
Looking at blessings through this lens allows us to hold onto our position as blessed, regardless of how our life is currently going. The broken, depressed and lonely Christian, or the injured and disappointed Christian-athlete is blessed. If that is you, hold on to the truth that in Jesus you are blessed!
Don’t mishear me and think that what we have, the athletic skills we have been gifted with, or our precious relationships with family and friends are not blessings, for they most definitely are.
However, knowing our position in Christ and the spiritual blessings we have as children of God, we can properly celebrate and thank Him for all that we do have here on our earth. God is a good Father who gives gifts to His children for us to enjoy. When framing them in the context of our ultimate blessing of knowing Christ, they become icing on the cake. Or since it is almost Thanksgiving, gravy on the mashed potatoes, or stuffing for the turkey. In Christ we have everything, the rest is just a bonus.
As we spend time with those close to us and consider our blessings this Thanksgiving season, may we thank Jesus for who He is, what He has done, what that means for us, and the spiritual blessings we have in Him.