By Not Known

Many of our prayers ask God for blessings. And at this time of the year many are earnest to ask the Lord for protection. What do we mean by blessing and protection? Are they the heart of our human needs?

By ‘blessings’ we usually mean things like health, wealth and other daily needs. A prayer for protection typically means we ask God to protect us from harmful events and forces, whether of a temporal or spiritual nature. Let’s say that it is good to depend on the Lord to provide for our daily needs and to be content with how he provides. Thus Jesus teaches us to pray that the Lord will give us our daily bread. Note that this is a day-to-day provision and not a lifetime order. Note also that it is bread (or rice, in Asian terms) and not a gourmet dinner. So, it is right to seek blessings such as food, good health, material provisions. Today’s passage (Luke 8:40-56) tells of an anxious parent and a sick woman seeking such blessings and being rewarded.

Likewise with protection. There are some things against which we cannot protect ourselves and it is good to seek God here too. Thus we think of David when confronted with overwhelming earthly threats (eg Ps 35) or we think of Paul talking about malevolent spiritual forces against which only God can protect (Eph 6:10-18). God is our protector when we cannot help ourselves.

However, our greatest need is not these kinds of blessings and protection. Our greatest problem is that we all sin and fall short of God’s glory (Rom 3:23). Our greatest need is the forgiveness that God provides through Jesus and his atoning sacrifice (Rom 3:22-25).

When God forgives us we have the greatest blessing of all – abundant life now and eternal life with our Creator. Likewise, the Cross of Jesus is God’s greatest protective act – protecting us against the effects of our sin. There are many ways of coming to Jesus and many reasons for coming to him. But we should always be open to the possibility that he will help with needs bigger than the ones we see. Four friends came seeking a health blessing for their friend but he received the greater blessing of forgiveness (Mrk 2:1-12). Others sought their daily bread but missed the greater bread of eternal life (Jn 6:26-27).

Let us come to Jesus with our greatest need and find his greatest blessing in the forgiveness of our sins.

David Burke