Lent Day 24: Blessings Despite Suffering
20 And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples and said: “Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.”
Sometimes it can be hard to see and embrace that we are blessed, based on what we see sometimes. But rest assured from our text today, God wants us to be blessed. This term means utterly satisfied, at peace and joy. The kind of satisfaction we experience at the birth of a child. With the birth of a child there is joy, relief and expectations of what this child will become. A new beginning for the child and the family. As jaded as the world can be, with the birth of a child there is an innocence that we all can embrace in that moment.
However, this blessed life comes with the demand for following his directions and obeying his commands, for those who are his disciples. As we remember Jesus’ definition of blessed, it does not look like the world’s definition; Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. 8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
As you can see from these statements of what it means to be blessed, they are counter to the culture of the world around us. We are called to walk to the beat of a different drummer. Our conductor is not the culture, but Jesus Christ. We are called to share in the sufferings of Christ, which is not safe, but also to share in his resurrection.
10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.
16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
Conversely, Jesus admonishes us with four “woes” for those who are satisfied with the
present. Content with life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but have not considered the suffering of the cross before the celebration of the resurrection. We need to remember that Jesus’ life came after his death, because “this life” is not all there is. As followers of Christ, we need to maintain a healthy and holy discontent.
“God of discontent, you are not satisfied with the present state of the world—and you expect us not to be satisfied with it either. Teach us to identify with the suffering of Jesus in this world and so to live into the blessing you desire for us and for all. Amen.”