In my travels through Africa, I’ve taken on a different perspective in terms of what blessing is. In the west, when people pray for blessing, they are almost always praying for financial blessing. This in itself is often an oxymoron. How many people do we know who are physically sick, or have broken relationships with parents or children or ex-spouses, or live with depression, but because they have money they consider themselves blessed. Revelation 3:17 ESV, English Standard Version, says; “For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” How little has changed since this was written. Having financial blessing often leads to a lack of character, because without trial we don’t grow.
How many other things are considered blessings in other cultures that we gloss over in a mammon-centered culture? How about health, or sound mind, or children? Yes, they may drive you nuts sometimes, but children are a blessing and a legacy that you leave behind, unless of course you neglect to raise them because you’re chasing the other “blessing”. Then they become a testament to misguided aspirations. How about going to bed with food in your stomach, or not having to fear your village will be raided in the night? These are things that the South Sudanese do not take for granted. When all our basic needs are met, we lose perspective about what is truly a blessing, and only consider ourselves blessed when not only our needs but also our wants are all met. It leads us to become truly ugly people who feel we’re entitled. It leads to pride and arrogance and a lack of love for our neighbors.
I strongly recommend anyone with the ability visit a third world nation and spend some time there, not at resorts or taking tours, but in a village or in a slum. Live with a family and find out how most of the world lives. (Yes, I do mean most of the world.) It will give you a different idea about what needs are, and a different attitude about consumables. It will give you a different idea about what blessings are, and help you to realize just how blessed most of us truly are. And when we realize that, we’ll be that much more likely to bless those around us.