“With all my heart I want your blessings. Be merciful as you promised.” (Psalms 119:58) NLT
In this season of giving thanks, as I count my blessings, two amazing moms are at the top of my list (both celebrating birthdays this month): one who gave me life and one who gave me her first son. Currently, I’m reflecting on the one who raised me, and a particular childhood memory – bedtime prayers. Mom would come into my room at night, sit on the edge of my small bed, place her hand on my head and pray, “Our Almighty and merciful Lord, Father, Son and Holy Ghost*, bless you and keep you. Amen.” If she ever forgot after tucking me in, and stood up to leave, I’d cry, “My blessing!” I needed it, not for routine but because it made me feel special and complete. (I had “fomo” before it was a thing!)
The writer of Psalm 119:58 knew a little something about that too: “With all my heart I want your blessings. Be merciful as you promised.” (NLT) Another translation of this verse reads: “I entreated Your favor with my whole heart; be merciful to me according to Your word.” (NKJV)
Like the cry of my young heart, this was a desperate request. The words “entreated” and “whole heart” give that away. But the thing that gets me is the word for “favor” in the second translation (pānîm), which literally means “face”, God’s face. The blessing being sought is God himself. And the reason mercy is requested is because we cannot seek God on our own – that’s the work of the Holy Spirit. We’re not entitled to mercy, but we are assured of it throughout the Scriptures. In breaking down the original language, this verse could also translate: “I beg for Your face with every part of my inner being. Show pity to me because of Your promise.”
We are pitiful creatures. Not only can’t we seek God without His Spirit, we can’t please Him without faith. Yet, as believers in Christ (“The Word” through whom faith comes), and as children who possess the indwelling Spirit, do we live like God exists? Do we walk with expectation in the One who rewards those diligently seeking Him? If not, if we are proudly self-sufficient in our own little worlds, crying out to God only when things go wrong (or, stubbornly, not at all), the fear of missing out should be intense. You will… miss… everything! But, if your heart cry is “bless me!”, take a look at Matthew 5:8. Jesus explains here how to see God – be pure of heart. That means having clear, undivided devotion to the Lord. Jesus didn’t say pure of speech or conduct but of heart because from there flow all issues of life (thoughts, feelings, will). Sin distorts vision and blinds us from truth. To see God is to have intimacy that comes only through time spent together in prayer and Bible reading. It almost sounds too simple – conversation, mutual listening. We do this easily with those we love. When tempted to cry, “Where’s my blessing?”, consider… where’s your heart?
God’s presence provides satisfaction and wholeness like nothing and no one else. Yet somehow, in the middle of a praise, I still catch myself inserting “but”. Surely, I’m not the only one who can go from thanking God to adding a minor complaint or a bit of clever instruction (insert eye-roll). When this happens, just confess and continue praying, thankful for the Spirit’s interceding. Our Almighty Lord is merciful in being all that we need – “Father, Son and Holy Ghost.” – and His children are abundantly blessed, no buts about it!
* Holy Ghost/Holy Spirit are interchangeable (see GotQuestions.com). God is alive!