One day, I welcomed a friend at the airport.
She was not a Filipino.
And so to give her a real taste of Philippine culture, I brought her to an Eat-All-You-Can Buffet. (After all, we’re the race that eats six meals a day.)
But when we got there, to my shock, my friend was one of those strange creatures in the world who didn’t like food.
So there we were, surrounded by heaps of food—from soups, and salads and steaks and sashimi’s and sushi’s—and she had almost nothing on her plate. All she did was nibble on a piece of bread!
I asked her, “Uh, why aren’t you eating?”
I couldn’t believe what she told me. She said, “Bo, I’m allergic to food.”
“Uh, like shrimps and crabs?” I asked.
She said, “I’m allergic to food in general.”
In hindsight, I’m almost certain she had anorexia.
But let me use this story to give you my message.
I believe life is like an Eat-All-You-Can Buffet. God has placed us in the middle of a Buffet of Blessings. But I now realize that there are people who are allergic to God’s blessings.
They can’t enjoy God’s Blessings.
And I believe this “blessing allergy” comes from two crazy beliefs…
1. “I’m Too Bad To Be Blessed”
Jeremy is a brilliant fellow.
Talented and gifted in many ways.
But no matter what he does, he can’t hold a regular job.
It’s a pattern he can’t seem to break. First, he does very well in the job. But on the sixth or seventh or eighth month, when his bosses recognize his brilliance, and he’s on the verge of being promoted, he gets into a fight with someone. Either his supervisor, or his officemate, or a customer. And he resigns.
So he starts looking for another job. And the pattern happens all over again.
It’s true. It’s as though Jeremy has an allergy with success.
One day, I talked to Jeremy.
In a few minutes, I spotted the cause of his destructive pattern. From his young age, Jeremy believed he was a bad boy. All his life, his father called him a bad boy. For years, no matter what he did, his father always said, “Jeremy, you bad boy!” This was burned into his subconscious. His theme song was Michael Jackson’s song, “I’m bad.”
And in his mind, bad boys never get blessed!
So when the blessing came near him, something within him repelled it. He did something to sabotage the blessing. He’d get into a fight. He’d mess things up. Just so that he won’t be blessed.
He was allergic to blessings. He’d repel success. Because in his heart, he felt he didn’t deserve it.
I told Jeremy, “You’re father is wrong. You’re not bad. You may have done bad things, but God made you a good person. And here’s the great news. Even if you did bad things, the Bible says, ‘For God makes the sun rise on badand good alike; God’s rain falls on the just and the unjust.’” (Matthew 5:44-45)
I told him my story. “I was addicted to porn. I was in bondage to lust for years. My sexual addictions ruled my life. Actually, for decades! Yet here I am, experiencing God’s mercy and blessing.” (Just in case you don’t know this part of my life, read my book, Your Past Does Not Define Your Future.)
The second belief is the exact opposite…
2. “I’m Too Good To Be Blessed”
Let me tell you the story of Hilda.
Hilda lived a life of suffering.
First of all, she was very sickly. Something was wrong with her thyroid, her kidney, her eyesight, her stomach, her cervix…
Second, she was as poor as a rat. She had no source of income. And everyday, she had to ask money from others so she has something to eat.
My heart went out to her.
One day, when I talked to her, she told me something that disturbed me. She said, “But Brother Bo, this life of suffering is pleasing to God. Isn’t the Christian life a life of suffering?”
Yes it is. But it isn’t suffering for suffering sake. It’s suffering for the sake of love.
As I talked with Hilda, I somehow felt that she too was allergic to blessings. Not because she was bad. But because she was good. In her mind, she believed that good people shouldn’t be enjoying life. Bad people, yes, but not good people.
I felt so sad for her.
Because of some faulty religious thinking, some people think that good people don’t have any right to enjoy life and have fun.
But that’s not true.
The Right Kind Of Suffering
I agree with Hilda: The Christian life is a life of suffering.
But not suffering for suffering’s sake.
But suffering for the sake of love!
Last week, my wife went shopping. And because we were on vacation, she asked me to go with her. To me, shopping is listed in my “Least Liked Activities In The World”, together with “dental root canal without anesthesia” and “tied to a tree while being attacked by an army of giant African red ants.”
So there I was, walking behind her, carrying her shopping bags. Sometimes, she’d turn around to show me two similar items and ask me, “Which should I buy?” I tell her, “Buy both. And let’s go home.” But of course, she wouldn’t do that. She’d keep looking and comparing and searching for two more hours.
Am I suffering? You bet.
But to be honest, it was sweet, lovely, glorious suffering. Suffering I actually enjoy. Because I’m with the woman of my dreams, my jewel, my princess.
The same thing happens with my kids.
My little boy Francis knows when his father is super busy. He somehow senses when I’m writing a big project with a very tight deadline. When he knows I’m super busy, he comes up to me and asks me, “Daddy, can you play with me?”
I close my computer and play with my son.
Am I suffering? You bet. But again—it’s the kind of suffering I love. Because I love little Francis.
Real love can only be proven by suffering. This is the suffering that’s pleasing to God. The suffering that’s actually not suffering, because it’s done with joy.
Correct your belief about the Christian life.
And enjoy your blessings!
Correct Your Image Of God
Some people think that God likes us to suffer.
This verse will change your mind…
Bad as you are, you know how to give good things to your children. How much more, then, will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask him! (Matthew 7:11)
I’m not a perfect father.
But my kids don’t have to beg me each morning, “Daddy, please give me breakfast…”
Even if they don’t ask, I give them breakfast. Because they need it.
Last month, my eldest son turned 11 years old. Yet to this day, my son doesn’t have a cellphone. Why? I don’t think he needs it. And he has never asked for one. (Miracles happen!) So I don’t give him one.
But when he was 9, I gave him a laptop.
I know that’s pretty early. But I saw that he needed it.
Because at 7 years old, he already loved to write. In fact, he was already writing a regular column in a kids’ magazine.
Note that my son didn’t ask for a laptop. I saw that he needed one, so I gave it to him.
God Responds To Your Needs In The Same Way
I repeat. I’m not a perfect father.
But your God is a perfect Father. And He responds to your needs in the same way.
My point? Expect your Father to meet your needs.
You need to say this core belief over and over again: “God loves to give me good things.”
Some people think they need to convince God to bless them. To beg Him. To twist His arm.
Believe me, you don’t have to do all that.
Because it’s His desire to give you good things.
Two days ago, I was in the airport with my kids. My 5-year old Francis saw a playground. He asked me, “Daddy, can I play there? Please, please, please?”
I laughed. I told him, “Son, you don’t have to say, ‘please, please, please’. Because one of the most favorite things that I do in life is watching you play in the playground.”
That’s true. I love watching Francis climb up the ladder, zip down the slide with his little arms reaching up to the sky, and finally running back to the ladder again and again.
I love watching my boy have fun!
Sometimes, I have tears in my eyes just watching him play.
I believe God loves watching you have fun too. He loves it when you’re enjoying life.
And you don’t have to convince Him to bless you.
Increase Your Capacity To Enjoy Life
Taste and see that the Lord is good. (Psalms 34:8)
Yes, God is good.
But do you taste His goodness?
Do you savor it? Do you feel it? Do you experience it? Do you delight in it? Revel and dance and sing in it?
God isn’t only good to you, He also wants you to enjoy His goodness.
If God gives a man wealth and property and lets him enjoy them, he should be grateful and enjoy what he has worked for. It is a gift from God. (Ecclesiastes 5:19)
Did you notice? The words “grateful” and “enjoy” happen at the same time.
Here’s God’s big message for you today: The more grateful you are, the more you’ll enjoy your blessings!
Two years ago, someone came up to me, asking for prayers.
With much anger, this person said, “Please pray for me, Brother Bo. I feel so bad. My heart is so heavy. I’m a salesman. I got P350,000 in commission…”
I looked at the person in a funny way. I wondered to myself, “what’s so bad about that?”
As if to answer my question, the person said, “It should have been P500,000! But I didn’t reach my quota by just a few pesos. Because of that technicality, I didn’t get half a million. I got P350,000 only…”
After praying for the salesman, I went backstage.
A friend of mine was waiting for me there.
When I saw her, she was smiling from ear to ear. She said, “Bo, I’m so happy! I just received a P3000 increase in my salary!”
Why was one person complaining about P350,000—and another person enjoying her P3000?
There was only one difference between these two people: Gratitude!
Let me say it again: The more grateful you are, the more you’ll enjoy your blessings.
Your gratitude is directly proportionate to your enjoyment.
The more grateful you are, the more enjoyment you feel.
The less grateful you are, the less enjoyment you feel.
Are you grateful?
When You’re Not Grateful For The Blessings,
You May Lose Them
A man came up to me, totally broken.
He was very open to me. He said, “Eight years ago, I had an affair. I broke up with my wife of 16 years. I also left my 3 children. I chose this younger, sexier girl. At that time, I really thought I was doing the right thing.”
He went on. “Recently, that younger, sexier girl is now seeing a younger, sexier man.” Suddenly, he was tasting his own bitter medicine.
“Bo, I regret what I did. Eight years ago, I had it all. I had a wife and kids. We were happy together. I didn’t appreciate what I had. Now, I’ve lost everything.”
This is very common: We don’t know the blessings we have until we lose them.
To Enjoy A Blessing,
You Need To Know It’s a Blessing
Learn to enjoy what you have.
Do you have a baby at home? When you’re have dirty diapers to change, that’s a blessing. Because that means your baby can pee and poo. Believe me, if one day, your baby can’t poo, you’ll be crying non-stop, praying on your knees until he poos.
And when your kids are noisy, that’s a blessing. Yesterday, my son celebrated his birthday party at home with 583 kids. Actually, there were only 5 kids. But they sounded like 583. And the amount of toys littered on the floor, you’d think it was a battlefield of Armaggedon. Grrrrr!
I repeat: When your kids are noisy, and you feel irritated, that’s a blessing. First of all, that means your kids are still at home. A day will come when your kids will grow up and leave you. And one day, you’ll be living in an empty, quiet house. And you’ll be praying for the noise to come back! Oh, enjoy the noise while it lasts.
And when you have a pile of stinky laundry in your laundry basket, that’s a blessing. That means God has blessed you with nice clothes to wear.
When you have dirty dishes to wash in your sink,that’s a blessing. That means God has blessed you with delicious food to eat, and family and friends to eat with you.
When you have to pay taxes, that’s a blessing. That means you earned money. So many people don’t have money.
When you have problems with your boss, that’s a blessing. That means you have a job. So many people are looking for jobs and can’t find any.
Remember, there are two kinds of blessings…
Two Kinds Of Blessings
Not all blessings are created equal.
Some blessings are temporary.
Some blessings are permanent.
In 2009, my friends—a married couple—lost everything they owned when typhoon Ondoy ravaged their home. The flood rose up so quickly, they couldn’t save a thing—not their cash, not their jewelry, not any of their appliances, or furniture, or clothes…
But they were able to save their kids.
When I visited them, all they possessed were the clothes they were wearing. But the father told me something very moving, I’ll never forget what he said.
“Bo, we lost everything,” he explained, “but today, as we hug our kids, we feel as though we have everything.”
My friends realized the difference between permanent blessings and temporary blessings.
Yes, our loved ones do die. I lost my father three years ago, but I still love him. And I know that I’ll meet him again. Because death is temporary and Heaven is permanent.
Here’s what I realized: When you enjoy your permanent blessings (love, people, relationships), you’ll be able to also enjoy your temporary blessings.
Let me explain.
Because I love being with my wife, my kids, and my friends, I take 10 small vacations a year.
If I didn’t enjoy my relationships, it wouldn’t matter if I take my vacations in Paris or London or Moscow or Monoco—I still won’t enjoy them.
But if I enjoy my relationships, we can take our vacation in Luneta Park (public park in Manila), and I’ll enjoy it!
Enjoy Your Greatest Blessing
Let me end with one last story.
One day, a young man was graduating from college.
Before his graduation, he told his father (in many indirect ways) about his dream car. He told him the brand, the model, the color…
The father never told him he was going to give him a car as a graduation gift—but the son was expecting it. He knew his father was rich and could afford it.
After the graduation ceremonies and family dinner, the father said to the son, “I love you so much son. I’m so proud of you. And I prepared a very special gift for you.”
The son’s heart was filled with expectation.
The father led his son to the master’s bedroom. He then handed to him a small box.
The son was disappointed. But out of curiosity, he opened the box. When he lifted the lid, he saw a leather Bible inside with his name embossed on the cover.
The son shook his head and became very angry. He shouted, “With all your money, this is all you could give me?”
He threw the gift on the floor and stormed out of the room. He stormed out of the house. He stormed out of their lives.
He left home and travelled far away. He found a job in another city. The parents tried to reach him, but he never answered their calls.
A couple of years later, the son received the news that his father had died. Convicted, he decided to visit the family.
Upon returning home, his heart was filled with sadness and regret. He walked into the bedroom of his father.
And he saw, at the side-table beside the bed, was a familiar box. He opened the box and saw again the Bible with his name embossed on its cover.
With tears, he picked it up and began leafing through the pages.
As he did, he felt something sticking at the back.
He turned the Bible over. And there he saw, taped on the back cover, was a key.
The father gave him his dream car, after all. But he didn’t enjoy this “temporary gift” because he didn’t enjoy the “permanent gift” his father gave him—a relationship with God.
God isn’t only the Blesser.
He is also the Greatest Blessing you’ll ever receive.
May your dreams come true,