Strong spirits: are you happy?
What makes you happy? What would it take to make you really happy, right now? The things that Jesus says will make us happy sound a little strange...
"Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor; the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them!
Happy are those who mourn; God will comfort them!
Happy are those who are humble; they will receive what God has promised!
Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires; the Kingdom of heaven belongs to them!
Happy are you when people insult you and persecute you and tell all kinds of evil lies about you because you are my followers. Be happy and glad, for a great reward is kept for you in heaven. This is how the prophets who lived before you were persecuted." Jesus to his followers (Matthew 5:3-5;10,11)
These are just five of the nine statements Jesus makes in this passage about being happy. I select them because to our eyes, they seem far more to be causes to be sad: "spiritually poor"; "mourning"; "humble"; "persecuted"; "insulted". Really? These should make us happy?
See, Jesus sees things differently than we do... He sees the truth! And he sees the whole picture. What we might consider a curse, he calls a blessing! In fact, he challenges us to see all of our circumstances from his perspective, trust him, and give thanks.
Getting persecuted for honoring God? Lucky you!
Besides serving as pastor at Caledonia Congregational Church, Gary Schwerin is the Spiritual Development Minister for the YMCA of the Rock River Valley and Executive Director of Bridge Ministries of Rockford. Prior to launching Bridge Ministries, Gary spent many years in leadership with Young Life. His columns appear here every Sunday - to see them all, subscribe to our daily email.
From August 2020: