It is usually difficult to see the good in a situation you are in when it is difficult. When our world seems turned upside down, we can feel anything but blessed. Sometimes hindsight provides a different perspective, but not always. Sometimes we just have to come at it from a different angle.
Matthew 5:1-12 (MSG)
5 1-2 When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:
3 “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.
4 “You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.
5 “You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.
6 “You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.
7 “You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.
8 “You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.
9 “You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.
10 “You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.
11-12 “Not only that—count yourselves blessed every time people put you down or throw you out or speak lies about you to discredit me. What it means is that the truth is too close for comfort and they are uncomfortable. You can be glad when that happens—give a cheer, even!—for though they don’t like it, I do! And all heaven applauds. And know that you are in good company. My prophets and witnesses have always gotten into this kind of trouble.
Much has been written about The Beatitudes over time, so I have used the version from The Message, it breathes some fresh air. It is difficult to know what to offer to add to it. Here Jesus is setting out the new understanding of life that following him will bring. It is not about all the shiny things you will have, all the many riches that will be poured upon, health, wealth and happiness. No, what Jesus is bringing is something way beyond that, much deeper – and much better. Blessings running counter to popular expectation and understanding, and in that way being far more significant, life-changing and useful.
It reminds me in a way of the Covenant Prayer, finding God’s purpose and blessing in the ways we might not choose – in usefulness and in feeling useless, in pain and pleasure, in being busy and in feeling overlooked, in thinking we have everything and feeling we have nothing; but giving ourselves, wholeheartedly, to God and allowing him to do his stuff. Letting God reach us, touch us, heal us, fill us, take us on a journey with him and allow him to use our lives.
I offer myself to you.
In my pain,
when I feel bereft,
Work in me,
and may I know
that I am blessed.