In Judaism, there is a blessing for everything. For just having eaten a meal, for rising in the morning, for seeing a rainbow, for putting on new clothing, for studying the Bible, for seeing a head of state. You name it, there’s probably a blessing for it. There is even a blessing spoken when one hears tragic news. The formulation is: “Blessed are you LORD, Who is the true judge.”
As I was sharing parts of my story with a friend, the idea came to me that I should speak this blessing over some of my own past hurts after she left. I decided to tell her about this blessing, and she asked, “Do you want to do it now?” I hesitated but decided to be brave and speak the words in her presence. And then, much to my surprise and delight, she did the same over some issues in her life.
I find this blessing to be very comforting, because sometimes there are no answers to the “Whys?” of life. My husband and I recently attended a funeral where this blessing was said during the service and again at the grave side. The man had been one of God’s greeters and huggers, who always made people feel welcome. He died of cancer, shortly after his wife, who had also died of cancer. Hearing this blessing spoken outside, underneath Colorado’s beautiful, blue sky was somehow consoling.
Spoken blessings are moments of praise. Can I let even the bad things in life represent opportunities to pay tribute to my King? Generally, we think of blessing God for the good things, like food and shelter and good relationships. These things are all gifts, and once we become aware of them as such, we should express gratitude to the Giver. One of the functions of blessings is to acknowledge God as the source of all things. Can I think of even the awful things as somehow being beneficial to me? Things for which I am grateful? Things that bring well-being even if I cannot possibly see how?
When we bless God, we acknowledge His presence with us, even in moments of pain. Perhaps it is this acknowledgement that gives us the courage to pray, to forgive, to take the next step, to grieve.
The dictionary says that blessing is endowing someone with a particular cherished thing or attribute. Though circumstances may seem unfair or particularly hurtful, speaking this blessing is reminding myself that God is the true judge. He is real. He is legit. He is loyal. He is faithful. He is trustworthy.
When we are in the middle of a discussion, we sometimes use the phrase “That is true,” to acknowledge that what the other person just said is right, even if it does bug us a little bit. When I am able to say, “Blessed are You LORD, Who is the true judge,” I am conceding to God’s wisdom, strength and power, even when everything in me is wanting to argue with Him.
Speaking this blessing is also a way of giving my agreement or sanction to God’s decision. A judge is someone who is able and qualified, and who has the authority to give an opinion and who decides the results. God is surely all of those things.
Speaking the blessing over tragedy requires faith. When I say, “Blessed are You, LORD” I somehow express faith, which is the ability to see the yet invisible as clearly as if it were present right before my eyes. Since this blessing is customarily spoken at a moment of tragedy, the speaker usually does not perceive any positive outcome. And, that is exactly where I was, two years ago, when I felt I should say this blessing. I couldn’t comprehend any good or beneficial outcome at the time. But, since then, I can see how God has truly blessed me.
Yes, there is a blessing for everything, including the disagreeable things in life.
“Blessed are you LORD, the true judge.”
photo(s) courtesy of Stock.XCHNG (http://www.sxc.hu)