Yesterday was kind of a rough day for me. Things were really stressful at work, and I felt overwhelmed. I thought to myself, where is the light at the end of the tunnel? When will things get easier? I was feeling frustrated and sad and helpless. It didn't seem fair that all my hard work wasn't enough.
I forced myself to take a break and go to the noon Bible study at my church, where we gather once a week to look at the readings for the coming Sunday's service. When I saw that the gospel text was the Beatitudes, I thought to myself, "That's nice—it's a lovely reading." But then as a woman sitting nearby began to read the passage, my eyes teared up. It felt as if God had sent those words especially to me, knowing I would need them on this trying day.
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 be shown 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 because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:3–12)
How many times have I felt weak, sad, timid, sorrowful? How many times have I tried to find peace or yearned for goodness to return to the Earth? A time or two I have even felt persecuted for my faith. But at all of those times, I was blessed. Yesterday, when I felt like everything was coming apart and there was nothing I could do about it, I was blessed. I am blessed even today, as I write this late post that should have been ready yesterday. The fact is that I am blessed every day, and when the going gets tough, that's really important.
Being blessed makes a difference. When things are bad, the fact that I am blessed gives me hope that someday they will get better, that today while I suffer I will not suffer alone. Being blessed means I am receiving grace and strength that help me to better weather the storms of life and to work to make things better for everyone else who is stuck in the storm with me. Being blessed means tempering sorrow with love, weakening oppression with hope, defining suffering as temporary.
There may be times when by worldly standards I'm pretty much screwed. I may find myself in any number of hopeless situations, trapped with no escape. But if those moments come, I will also be blessed, and that means I will have hope when things look hopeless and joy when I'm in pain. Things won't be quite so bad, and I will know that someday they be even better. Look at the promises in the Beatitudes. Those are big. They're beautiful. They're real.
I am blessed, and so are you.