Blessed are the broken in spirit? Blessed are those who are facing horrible loss? Blessed are those who are non-aggressive and bear the bruises to show it? Really?
Jesus' teaching on what it means to be blessed in Matthew 5 has been taught about from many a pulpit. But I want to write about it today anyway. The passage is often called the Beatitudes. This old Latin word doesn't mean much to most of us but all it means is blessed or happy.
Because when you are abused by another, you don't feel blessed. You feel cursed. But if you trying to be a "good Christian" you are often comforted with platitudes just as a widow at a funeral is. We are left confused and further traumatized when well-meaning but mistaken people try to comfort us with explanations such as "God must have a reason" or "Count all trials as joy" or "This must be your cross to bear."
And many of us have had not-so-well-meaning friends and acquaintances who rub salt in wounds with other words such as "Maybe if you just worked harder at not making him mad" or "well, you do dress a little inappropriately" or "God doesn't give us more than we can bear" or "Have you ever thought that God might be trying to teach you something?"
And all of us have felt the sting of rejection, when we honestly tell another that we are feeling anger at God or doubt about God's goodness. The feelings are real. They are a natural part of untangling abuse's damage to our hearts. But try bringing it up at a bible study. Unless you are very lucky, at least one person will judge you as being "not very spiritual." Share the full story of all the trauma you have experienced and you will probably encounter people who do not believe you, people who minimize what you said, and people who rapidly change the subject.
None of these experience makes us feel "blessed," do they? Hardly.
So why did Jesus say that people in miserable places are blessed?
Is death a blessing? Is abuse a blessing? Is poverty a blessing? Many people try to make out that it is so, putting on a happy face at church when they are miserable. But no matter how effective our masquerades as happy, blessed Christians, it doesn't change how ugly and frightening bad times feel.
We'd all be so relieved if we tuned into the end of each of the sentences. For example "Blessed are those who mourns, for they will be comforted." If we study each sentence of the Beatitudes they are giving a coherent, repetitive message. Basically, they shout out wonderful news that no matter what our circumstances are in this life, we are blessed by the presence of the living God who joins us right in our circumstances. The blessing is God's loving presence, even in our darkest nights.
A problem with abuse, is that we shut down in self-protection, so it is easy to miss how God is present. We feel all alone, abandoned and rejected. Nonetheless, many of us have discovered as we are healing that God is present with us now and he was present with us in our worst times as well. If you are one of these, please take a moment to once again thank God and rejoice. You are blessed.
If you aren't in that place right now on your healing journey, then please hold onto knowing that God is much more real and loving than platitudes make him seem. Keep searching to see who He actually is. Read through the Beatitudes again and read about what Jesus did and said here on earth. Invite God's Holy Spirit to show you the truth about God and about how He feels about you and about the abuse you have suffered. If you keep turning to God, I know you will discover that you are blessed.
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