There are two particular passages in Scripture that help us to understand the consequences of refusing to receive a blessing with gratitude. We often talk about blessings as being those things that we wished for. We say we are blessed when things are going according to our plan. But God sometimes has a different definition of blessing than we do. He often sends blessings that are entirely opposite of what we think we want, and yet the impact of goodness that comes with them is even greater than our plan. Sometimes God sends more babies when we wish we could be done, sometimes God provides a new job in a new city when we don’t want to move, sometimes He leads us to selling our home when we really wish we could keep it. There are many more ways that He calls us to do something we either don’t want to do or think we are ill equipped for.
In Numbers 14, the people of Israel curse Moses and question God for bringing them out of Egypt. They complain that the people of Canaan are too strong for them, and they long be back in their days of slavery. They look at the direction God is sending them and it looks too hard, too risky, too scary. God has told them there is great blessing on the other side, but they can’t see past the tough stuff they must get through to get to the beauty of the promise land. God is not pleased with this lack of faith. He takes the blessing from them because they do not have the faith to see it as a blessing. Instead he gives the blessing to their children, and they must stay in the wilderness until they die and their children are ready to take the land
In Luke 1, Zacharias is told that he will finally be given the blessing of a son. But, instead of believing the word of the Lord, He questions how God will be able to bring it about. Instead of accepting the news with joy and faith, he is doubtful of its truth. God is not pleased with his doubt. He strikes him with muteness until after John is born.
When a blessing comes our way, even if it is disguised in lots of hard work, sleepless nights, uncertainty, and confusion, God wants us to receive it in faith. He wants us to believe that the magnitude of blessedness will far outweigh the hard work that comes at the outset. When the Israelites were facing the people of Canaan, God wanted them to look past the strength of the opposing army and see a land flowing with milk and honey that was promised to them. When the angel told Zacharias he was going to finally have a son, God wanted Zacharias to look past the confusion and uncertainty of the situation and receive the blessing of a child with joy and hope.
Many times in my life I have seen a big change on the horizon and groaned with worry about all that needed to be done instead of focusing on how that change would bring with it a greater amount of blessing in our lives. When God called our family to move across the country, I faced my unpacked home with anxiety. I added up the hours I had in a week and found that I had none left for moving a home, especially with toddlers running around. I constantly made mental lists of all the details: change of address forms, new internet service, changing banks, finding a church, readjusting my shopping routines, etc. Of course all these things need to be done and it is necessary to have some level of organization when a change comes, but God wants us to see past all of that and give thanks for the good things that are on the other side. He wants us to lay aside the worry and the need to have everything figured out. Fear keeps us focused on the “how” and the “when” instead of giving us the courage and hope to see the great benefits. The hard work is a means to a greater end.
God is always moving us from glory to glory, refining us, and sanctifying us for our good and His glory. Often moving from one glory to the next glory seems challenging and sometimes impossible. This is the way we see God working through all of Scripture: when things are getting hard and the enemies appear to be giants, blessing and glory are right around the corner. He wants our cheerful obedience. He wants His people to march around the walls seven times and in the end it is the shouts of joy that bring the walls of Jericho tumbling down.