For the most part, this has been a lousy year. But for those of us who are followers of Jesus, we hold firm to his promises and trust that he will come through in the end.

After all, we can look at examples like the one found in the early part of Luke 5 when Jesus steps in to bless Peter, James and John. After a frustrating night of fishing, Jesus tells Peter to cast his nets into the deep water and try again.

Verse six says, “When they had done so, they caught such a large number of fish that their nets began to break.” In other words, Jesus poured out an unexpected blessing on Peter, James and John in a moment of discouragement when they needed it most.

Our response to this is probably a hearty, “Amen!” After all, Jesus loves us too. So, why not anticipate a blessing like this when we are need? There is nothing wrong with that. But are you and I prepared to respond to the blessing like Peter, James and John?

Most of us, when we are on the receiving side of a divine blessing, respond with something like, “Thank you God for what you did for me!” Certainly, appreciation and acknowledgment of God’s blessing is fine, but notice what Peter does. He says in verse eight: “Go away from me Lord; I am a sinful man!”

For Peter, the blessing isn’t about “what I got”. It isn’t about “me”. His response is to worship and honor the Lord. Yes, God blesses us because he loves and cares for us. But, perhaps, the bigger point to any blessing is to remind us of his glory and his sovereignty while also reminding us that we are fallible and of our inabilities.

Peter says, “I am a sinful man!” This could be because he is portraying the stark contrast between man and God. That’s fair. It may also be because, in that moment, Peter recognizes his own arrogance and tendency to rely on himself for success. After all, he’s a professional fisherman. Jesus is a rabbi. When Jesus told Peter to cast his nets in the deep, the professional might have been saying to himself: “Whatever, Jesus. That doesn’t make sense. That tactic is illogical. You’re supposed to fish at night in the shallows. But I’ll do it anyway just to humor you.” Are you and I guilty of taking that same attitude towards God?

There is one other aspect to Peter’s response to the blessing that is notable. If you and I had been in Peter’s shoes, we may have realized that we had the potential for a gold mine on our hands. Jesus has blessed me, and I can turn this into a windfall that will set me up for life. Think about it. With Jesus on the payroll, the Zebedee Fishing Company was poised to rake in loads of fish day after day. Profits would skyrocket. Peter, James and John would be living the good life in posh mansions on the lakeshore while their fleet of boats kept hauling in the dough.

But that’s not what happened. See verse 11: “So they pulled their boats onto the shore, left everything and followed him.”

Wut?

Jesus tells the three fishermen that he has a different plan — a better plan — for their lives. So, despite the potential to be the Amazon of Israeli first-century fishing, they leave it all behind and follow him.

What can this tell us? Perhaps, Jesus blesses us not because he’s blessing our plans. It would have been logical to conclude: Jesus wants us to be successful fisherman. That’s why he blessed us with so much success. But, there may be another purpose for God’s blessing: to point us towards him and move us away from our plans and towards his plans for our lives.

So, when blessings comes your way — and they will — how will you respond? Something worth considering as we head towards Christmas and the New Year.

[Luke 5:1-11 (NIV)]