Bless you.

Burden and Blessing

Definitions and Meaning

Christian Spirituality define Blessing and Burden

A burden is a piece of God's love.

What Is A Blessing?

blessing: (n.) and to bless (v.)

  1. Definition: The verb 'to bless' means to treat as holy, to honor someone or something for its goodness. This also came to mean to ask God to give benefits to the person or thing blessed. That kind of benefit is called a 'blessing'. A blessing makes the blessed person happy, or at least pleased.
  2. English word origin: Old English blētsian (to consecrate, set apart as sacred) < assumed Indo-European root *bhel- (may be related to 'blood').
  3. Its specifically-Christian and Biblical usage is based on forms of the Greek makarios (happy).
  4. Other words for it: 'table graces', boon, honor, hallow, to make the sign of the cross, thank, announce favor, ask God to favor, express gratitude.

To Christians, Jesus has made all of humanity holy, as God who became a human. This means all of existence has become endowed with a sea of blessings. Christ's followers are given His charge to love our neighbors and, like God, give blessings to them. Thus, Christians over the years have prayed blessings for specific people (that is, that God give them the fruits and achievements they seek). In some circles, the term is used very cheaply, especially in prayer; 'giving a blessing' then becomes nothing more than 'to give them whatever they're after', instead of what God desires for them. Many people turn to churches and religious figures or meetings or services to get personal blessings which are material (health and wealth) or spiritual (ecstatic experiences). Not that God doesn't want to bless them, but their pleas are not an act of worship or love so much as a dressed-up display of selfishness in order to receive more gains. In the core of the Christian tradition, believers do not chase after benefits for themselves, but live a life of blessing (and empowering) others. Those who are blessed by you may want to give benefits in return, but whether they do or not is not the Christian's concern. Jesus promises to bless us as we give to others. Also, there are often opportunities to turn your intercessory prayers for someone into a blessing of encouragement spoken to them. It is also traditional for Christian guests to bless those who show them hospitality.

God is the ultimate giver of blessings. The most remarkable of these is God's ability (and even eagerness) to take terrible happenings and make blessings grow from them. It doesn't make tragedy into anything other than tragedy, but it enables us to pass through it, and not only live, but even thrive, thereafter.

The most well-known Christian gesture of giving a blessing to someone is to trace the sign of the cross in front of the person or object. This is the same motion as crossing oneself, just done toward another. It is generally seen as a Roman Catholic or Orthodox tradition, however Anglicans and Lutherans sometimes do it too. But at the heart of any Christian act of blessing is the idea that the words and gestures are matched by an act of generosity, hospitality, assistance, or companionship, where possible. Take the time to think about what action to take. A gesture of grace may have to suffice, but do more when you can.


What Is A Burden?

burden: A 'burden' is when God makes your soul 'heavy' for someone or something. It is when you share in the sorrow and concern God has about what happens to people in human life. A 'burden' comes to people who are open to caring about others. The Spirit tells you, from inside of you, that a person, group, event or situation is facing an important spiritual moment and needs prayer or action right now. Don't mess around with this burden; stop whatever it is you are doing as safely as you can, and start praying. When you respond to the Spirit's leadings in prayer or action, you're sharing someone else's load, and lifting a bit of your own, too. It may not feel that way at first, though. People with strong gifts of empathy or healing can find the burden quite troubling and overpowering. Even without such special gifts, people are known to break down in tears from a burden laid on their heart. The burden encumbers them, makes them feel like they're being weighed down, and gets in the way of whatever else they are doing.

The Hebrew prophets would sometimes describe their prophecies as a burden. The burden was whatever the Lord burdened them with. Most of the time it was the behavior of their nation and its leadership that weighed heavily on God's heart. It was a burden for the prophet, too. They felt it in their gut, it wracked their soul, and occupied their mind -- God gave them a taste of what His love is like to Him as He sees us live as we do. The prophet's most vexing burden was the duty of telling the horrible truth to the people both God and they loved.

The prophetic meaning of burden is often missed in dictionaries. But this site has more on what burdens tell us, and the burdens borne by the prophets of the Old Testament. Also, study questions on what a prayer group does when they sense a special burden of prayer for someone or something.