Over two million people have now watched The UK Blessing video. Social media saw streams of comments describing how emotional they became when they saw it. A friend asked, “Why so much sobbing?” Fair question. Why has this resonated so widely?
Is it because we have begun to see how much we need God’s blessing? We’re living through a global crisis. Too many have lost loved ones. Some have lost jobs or businesses. The future ahead is rocky economically and the threat of Covid-19 still hangs over us.
Perhaps this Blessing song has struck a chord because it reminds us that we can turn to God and that his nature is to bless us – even though we don’t deserve it.
Many people think God is harsh; they don’t know that he longs to make his face shine upon us.
Recently, I was in a long Sainsbury’s queue, chatting to a lonely old chap, who asked, “Why did God send coronavirus?” The question of why a good, loving, all powerful God allows suffering is a question which stabs us every time we see a hungry child or a woman enslaved or a refugee drown. It’s the question that hit our family when my beloved husband died suddenly of a heart attack a few years ago.
The blessing of Numbers 6 reassures us that God’s intent is to bless us. I loved discovering that this is the only Old Testament blessing given directly by God himself. That shows us that blessing is God’s idea. After all, his story is a story of blessing. What’s the first thing that God does after creating Adam and Eve? What’s the last thing that Jesus does before ascending to heaven? It’s all about blessing.
Genesis tells us that everything went wrong when we rejected God and threw aside blessing for the curse. Yet still our loving God refused to give up on his blessing plan! If I was him, I’d have ditched this world and started again. But God loves us. So at inestimable cost, Christ took the curse of sin on the cross, to remove all that separates us from knowing his face shining on us. Now we can know God near, whatever we face. It means that me and my boys can know God is for us in our grief, promising to hold us and bring us through until all is joy.
The very first hearers of the Numbers blessing were God’s people in the desert, facing an uncertain journey ahead. God gave them the blessing as his promise that he would see them through it, he would keep them, he would make his face shine upon them and give them peace. As our world faces an uncertain future, that promise is for us.
I was one of those who sobbed when I first saw The UK Blessing. Why? Because I believe that heaven opens when churches unite to pray and align with the heart of God to bless. Look at the news and you despair; pray down God’s blessing and you are filled with hope. This blessing is a gift for us to pray - don’t worry if you prefer John Rutter’s version or no music at all - what matters is that we pray down God’s blessing over our homes, our nation and our world.
We need not fear an infectious virus because we have infectious blessing! That excites me because God always blesses us to make us a blessing. Blessing is how he writes his name, his character across his people (Numbers 6:27). He is making us a blessing – not only practically with our neighbours but as we share the ultimate blessing of knowing him.
Secularism offers little comfort in a global crisis. That’s why Google searches for “prayer” and online church attendance have rocketed. The word “unprecedented” has been thrown around a lot recently by politicians - we in the Church have an unprecedented opportunity to share Christ. So, let’s pray down blessing but let's not stop there. We are called to be God's blessing in a suffering world; we offer an eternal hope which will never fade.
Kate Patterson is a speaker and author of The Promise of Blessing and The Gift of Blessing. Read more at giftofblessingtrust.org