“. . .the LORD bestows favor and honor;
no good thing does he withhold from those whose walk is blameless.”
According to news reports, a woman in Daphne, AL, in a rush of violent storms, was struck by lightning while she stood in her kitchen and asked God for her loved ones’ safety. You read that right. That she got hit was an answer to prayer.
Lightning blew her off her feet, burned up some linoleum, and left a blackened area on the concrete beneath. She apparently didn’t know up from down, but managed an “amen” before the room was engulfed in smoke and fire. A few minutes later she was found by her 14-year-old granddaughter. Outside, dime-sized hail and gusty winds moved through, as three inches of rain fell.
The 65-year-old woman, or so says the news, claims it was a blessing.
What she means is that she’s the one who got smacked and not her grandkids. Just the same, getting knocked down by lightning is no cup-of-tea blessing. I’m not sure I’d rank it high on any list of all-time best divine gifts, but I understand what she means. And she could be dead, after all.
It’s all a matter of perspective, I guess, isn’t it? If some crystal ball told that woman she was about to get hit by lightning, she might not have thought the bolt much of a blessing. But then again she wasn’t killed.
Once in a while, I might think my marriage doesn’t rank with the best-of-class; but when a friend’s is breaking down, I know I’m heavenly blessed. It’s all a matter of perspective.
All blessings aren’t created equal; but all things—even a bolt of lightning—can be a blessing, I suppose. Even death can. Some death at least. I think so anyway.
Ralph Waldo Emerson is likely to say at this point that faith is its own great reward. Whether or not the psalmist is telling the truth—that the righteous will be blessed by the Lord (“no good thing does he withhold), it’s really only one’s faith that makes it so. Grandma gets flattened by lightning, her kitchen floor gets torn up (and her backyard, according to the news), and she calls it all a blessing.
And she’s right. She may have been knocked dizzy, but she didn’t die and neither did those grandkids.
But it's faith that makes it so, not God. Look, Emerson would say, our faith creates paradigms by which we make meaning for the events of our lives, which means believers are blessed simply because they believe they are. That’s what Emerson would say. God has little to do with it. Why throw Him into the mix? Virtue is its own reward. Believe in the god that's in you.
I’m quite sure my life will run a whole lot more smoothly if I don’t punch my neighbor, cheat on my wife, or stick my hands in the cash drawer. But I’d also like to believe that if I try to do what’s right, if I seek justice and mercy, and if I try to give God my life in thanksgiving, I’ll be blessed because of what God almighty will do.
I believe that. Of course I do. That Alabama grandma is right--she is blessed to be alive. And isn’t that something—how her granddaughter found her there, helped her back to her feet? Isn’t she blessed? Sure, she is.
Blessings are all God-things.