Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness… (Matthew 5:10a)
I have trouble figuring out the Beatitudes (Mt. 5:3-12). Jesus is telling us, through these famous words, that we are blessed when we are poor in spirit, when we grieve, when we are persecuted, etc. The problem is that I do not feel very blessed at all when I grieve, when my spirit feels vulnerable and fragile or when someone gives me the thumbs down because I have a fish symbol on the back of my car. I feel blessed when my belly is full of good food, when my family is all around me, when there is laughter in our home and when a good friend gives me a sincere compliment. But my definition of being blessed is totally different from Jesus’.
Family, friends and food are great blessings from God for which we can be truly thankful. Anyone, even someone who does not believe in God, would recognize the goodness of those things.
But Jesus is telling us that we are also blessed by God when things are not going so well, for example, in times when we are so hurried and harried that we have no time to be still and know God, when a phone call brings the horrific news that a loved one has died, or when you try to do the right thing and you end up getting punished or ostracized for it.
In all such moments, we do not feel blessed at all. Our feelings tell us quite the opposite: that we are abandoned and perhaps even condemned or cursed by God. We may think to ourselves, “What does God have against me that He lets these things happen to me?”
The truth is that we are especially blessed in our times of loneliness, grief and suffering. God is at work behind the scenes bringing things to the glorious conclusion that He has in mind for us. We are like Jesus’ first disciples living in the Saturday before Jesus’ resurrection. All we have to do is hang on to the One who is holding on to us. Sunday’s coming! And for that reason we are blessed!
Prayer: Dear Jesus, help me to know and trust that You are holding on to me through thick and thin. Amen.