Thanks God, but no thanks.

When ANYone looks at their life, there are certain things they take pride in. And if you even slightly believe in God, chances are at some point you will thank God for those things.

For example - when there is a car wreck and a loved one narrowly escapes death, we thank God for that.

When you pass a homeless guy on the street in your fancy shmancy car, you thank God for that. err, for the car, not the homeless guy.

Almost always, our "blessings" are compared against someone else as a way of expressing a bit of pity.

Best seen perhaps through the southern expression - "Well bless their heart!"

Why would God wish such pain and misery upon another person? We have no clue - but SURELY God will bless their heart (if not their stomach, am I right?).

Because God has blessed our hearts. And our stomachs. And our wallets. I would not argue we are blessed. We should be thankful for our cars, our homes, and all the things we are blessed with. The crazy thing is that I really think God wants to bless us in other ways that are more important than the things we thank him for. I think we, as Christians, in our assurance of a divine love, should always look for the good in situations. Sure - there are situations, places, and events in life that are undeniably bad. No doubt. But how many of us have thanked God for the financial collapse? Is it not a blessing that we have been divested of these millstones we have tied around our neck? Sure, we will weep for those good ole days in Egypt when we had bowls of soup, a decent job, and a roof over our heads, but is this wilderness we find ourselves in a blessing? (as an aside, how many of us WOULD trade our freedom in Christ for slavery, if it would guarantee food, clothing, shelter, and security)

You bet we are blessed. There are blessings to be found in difficulty, in sacrifice, and in situations beyond your control.

Frankly, I don't want those kind of blessings any more than you do. Thanks God, but no thanks. I would prefer to simply stay in my comfortable life.

Its not a bad life, and by any measure, I'd say I even give more of myself than others. The real kicker for me though is that we often ask for God to bless us (and to bless those around us) but we have a very limited view of what those blessings should look like. There are blessings all around us in our families, friends, communities, and our God. When was the last time you thanked God for just being God?

Maybe America ceasing to be a "Christian nation" isn't so bad after all, since Christians will have to become more serious about being faithful.

Maybe the economy collapsing isn't so bad after all, as it gives us all a moment to re-evaluate our lives, how we live them, and where our priorities are.

Don't get me wrong, these things are tough. And they are bad in the sense that they will stretch, change, and hurt us. People will die - this is bad. People will go hungry - this is bad. Our dividend checks will decrease - this is bad.

But I am so confident in God's love, that I believe God's blessings are good and they are ripe for the taking. And we can all become better for it. My hope is that you and I can tell God thanks for the tough things, for the painful things, for the bad things... not because they are good but because they will lead to good blessings. And we can leave that whole "no thanks" thing off.

Our God has an ear for the oppressed, for the hopeless, and the powerless. And those cries never. never. never. go unanswered.

God's blessings are not hidden - we are just misplaced. For all that has been, thanks. To all that shall be, yes.