Say the word, blessings, and our minds turn to the many ways God continually bestows good things. The more attentive we are, the more blessings we notice.
But in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus described eight blessings that sound quite bizarre at first hearing. For example:
“You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope.” (Matthew 5:3a, MSG).
Surely his listeners blinked in astonishment and thought, There’s no happiness at the end of that rope!
Jesus continued. “With less of you there is more of God and his rule” (v. 3b, MSG). Some may have nodded in agreement at this statement, having experienced profoundly God’s help in time of trouble.
Others may have wondered, More of God sounds good, but if I’m still at the end of my rope, where’s the blessing?
At least a few probably misunderstood the word, blessed. It’s more than happiness; it’s deep down, untouchable contentment. No matter what might happen, theblessed person remains confident in his God, hopeful in his outlook, and peaceful in his spirit—despite the turmoil of circumstances.
In the ancient Greek of New Testament times, blessed was not a word spoken in sedate, pious tones. It was a shout of overflowing joy. And in the Be-Attitudes of Matthew 5:3-12, Jesus announced shout-worthy blessings—satisfying consequences of embracing God’s way of thinking and living.
“You ARE blessed,” Jesus taught (emphasis added). Notice he used present tense verbs. These statements were not hope-filled platitudes for the future; they expressed conditions for the present, available immediately.
Notice, too, that such overflowing joy is not procured through the acquisition of material goods or the experience of pleasure. King Solomon found that out long ago. He had it all, only to discover that everything was meaningless (Ecclesiastes 1:2). Countless others have tried the same route; each one has failed.
In the face of so much evidence, why do we expect self-indulgence to provide deep satisfaction?
On the other hand, Matthew 5:3-12 is just the beginning of blessing-instruction, presenting God’s guarantees for soul-happiness. If Jesus had preached another sermon of Be-Attitudes (Maybe he did!), our wise Savior/Teacher might have included these:
Blessed are the stretched and overwhelmed,
for they shall discover strength (Isaiah 41:10).
You probably know heroes of the faith who have proven: “God gives unexpected strength when unusual trials come” (Charles Spurgeon). That strength isn’t just for heroes; it’s available to us all.
Blessed are the disappointed,
for they shall be transformed (Romans 12:2, NLT).
As God leads us toward a new focus, a new perspective, we find our minds renewed and our spirits uplifted.
Blessed are the shaken,
for they shall experience the security
of the Lord, the Rock (Psalm 27:5).
Praise God he is reliable, immoveable, and firm! We can confidently depend upon him now and forever.
Blessed are the confused,
for they shall receive wisdom (James 1:5).
God never turns away from a sincere heart seeking his guidance.
Blessed are those who celebrate God’s blessings–
even in the midst of difficulty–
for they shall find contentment in gratitude (Philippians 4:6-7).
We can follow the example of Jean Baptiste Alphonse Karr (1808-1890) who said, “Some people grumble that roses have thorns; I am grateful that thorns have roses.”
Know this, too: We can humbly and resolutely expect such blessings as these. God doesn’t make such promises lightly; He fulfills what he says:
“God is not a man, that he should lie,
nor a son of man, that he should change his mind.
Does he speak and then not act?
Does he promises and not fulfill?”
–Numbers 23:19 NIV
‘Care to give God a shout-out for joy (Psalm 95:1-3)?
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