Do you know what is the saddest saying in the Bible? I have two candidates for that distinction. In the New Testament, it is Jesus’ statement that “the poor you will always have with you.” It’s sad to think that there will never come a day when poverty will be completely eradicated. 

                

                 My candidate for the saddest saying from the Old Testament, or Hebrew Scriptures, is sadder still. You probably know the story of Jacob, slyly cheating his twin brother Esau out of his birthright as the firstborn. He deceives their father Isaac, who is blind, into thinking that he is bestowing the family blessing on Esau, when Jacob is, in reality, stealing it for himself. 

 

 

               Later on, when Esau shows up and realizes what has happened, his plaintive cry is, “Have you only one blessing, father? Bless me, me also, father!” And all old Esau could do was to lift up his voice and weep. “Have you only one blessing?” “Bless me also!” Esau raised his sad cry centuries ago; but what is truly sad is that it has such a contemporary ring.

 

     As a pastor, I have known so many good folks who have been denied a blessing.  Perhaps a father denied them the simple words, “I love you.” Maybe a spouse never followed through on the promises they made. Maybe a friend broke a trust. A blessing was withheld. And that lack of blessing followed them down the years, with its constant reminder of what might have been, but was not to be.

 

     Family therapists have a poignant term for it: “destructive entitlement.” It describes that sense of not receiving something to which one was entitled, which haunts a person and eventually becomes a destructive force within. Bless me, father … please bless me.

 

     Of course, there are cures for destructive entitlement, and healing takes time and help. But that is not my point here. Rather, I want to write to all of our readers who have the capacity to hold — or withhold — blessings to others. If anyone in your life is waiting for you to bless them, for heaven’s sake, give them the gift while you still can. An old poem comes to mind by an unknown author. It says it all:

 

If you have a tender message, or a loving word to say;

 

Don’t wait till you forget it, but whisper it today!

 

The tender words unspoken, the letter never sent,

 

The long-forgotten messages, the wealth of love unspent.

 

For these some hearts are breaking, for these some loved ones wait,

 

Then give them what they’re needing, before it is too late!

 


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