Matthew 5:3 NLT
'God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.'
Blessing is most easily associated with happiness. Some of the translations of the scripture replace the word “Blessed” for “Happy” in the opening statements of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Governments have also, in recent years, become obsessed with seeking to understand the determinants of happiness, or ‘well-being’ as it is often now called. Government seeks to identify some interventionist mechanism that might increase personal happiness in the hope that it might boost popularity at the polls. Yet, Adam Smith, the great Scottish ‘Father of economics’ in the eighteenth century warned against the person who “seems to imagine that he can arrange the different members of a great society with as much ease as the hand arranges the different pieces upon a chessboard”.
Here, Jesus presents a series of paradoxical statements. A paradox is a statement that appears to contradict itself. Here Jesus locates being blessed, or happy, with circumstances we might naturally seek to avoid. It highlights that for the follower of Jesus, happiness is not something to be manufactured but encountered. It is the result of a deepening and enduring relationship with God.
It would be contrary to go in search of poverty, mourning or persecution in hope of finding happiness. However, it is reassuring to know that even in such circumstances, the comfort and mercy of God are available and in evidence. We must not assume we have accessed in the gospel a guarantee of a charmed life, free from interruptions and hardships that can throw life off course. None of us can avoid the storms of life. Our comfort is that Jesus comes to us in such storms. Our challenge is always to discern and respond to God’s visitation.
QUESTION: Can you confidently rest in the knowledge that God is present and a trustworthy navigator through the storms of life?
PRAYER: My life is beyond my control. Thank you, everlasting Father, that it is not beyond your control.