I like blessings, don’t you? We are promised blessings in the Bible, aren’t we? Jesus has a whole thing about them on the Sermon on the Mount.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven. (Matthew 5:3-12a)
As we heard these in church recently, I noticed something about these blessings. Almost all of these blessings require us to be in a state of lack – in a place of pain or failure. Poor in spirit, mourning, hungering and thirsting for righteousness? You don’t hunger for righteousness if you already have it.
As I listened and thought about it, I realized that this is the message I preach continually. God is present in our suffering. God is present in our lack. I have seen time and again how people who have struggled against faith for years have finally been able to find and hold it in the midst of tragedy. I have seen how those who mourn are comforted, and how the poor in spirit understand the kingdom of God in incredible ways.
It’s a bit contrary to our culture, but incredibly beautiful if you see it. I hope you can.