It's hard to feel stuck. Whether it's relationally, occupationally, with a hidden sin, with your finances, or spiritually, there's a deadness that seeps into all other areas of your life when you're feeling like you can't overcome something.
And when you look at Scripture, it's really easy to see that's not the way God created us to live. At. All.
If you're feeling stuck, it's time to live blessed instead.
I was reminded this morning that Jesus gives us a really good blueprint through the Beatitudes of what it looks like to focus our efforts on the most important things. As we focus on what's most important to Him, it puts our own circumstances and struggles in perspective.
The hinge point of these beatitudes is in the beginning of each when Jesus says "Blessed are those..." or, in some translations, "God blesses those..." This isn't #blessed where something good happens or we're reminded of how nice we have it. This is a deep sense of peace and joy that God has for His people when we're living in the ways that matter most to Him. The Greek word here can even be translated to "lucky" (more on this here) to remind us that we've been chosen and called not based off anything good we've done but because God loves us and is using us.
We can start to see our life as it actually is rather than hindered by our limited view if we hold tight to these things:
1. Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Stay sober-minded about whose you are. Your good works aren't yours. They're God's. In fact, your whole life is His. Keep your thoughts focused on whose you are, not on how well or poorly your actions seem.
2. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
The deepest mourning is when we see how far our actions truly separate us from the holiest of holies: God. When we remember our own depravity, we can see his grace more clearly. True comfort comes in seeing this.
3. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
We start to turn a corner here and see Jesus inviting us into a way of living. The term "meek" could more literally be defined as "the men who suffer wrong without bitterness or desire for revenge.” It's controlling our anger and choosing to love rather than dish out what we believe is deserved. God calls us to always live this way.
4. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
This is not a "feel good" stanza. Jesus promises this. And of all the beatitudes, I'm most challenged by this one. I want to grow. I want to be closer to God. But is that the primary driving force of my life? Am I willing to forego all my selfish desires to truly experience His love and direction? Major heart check for me. And if you find yourself in a similar place, start praying this as often as you remember: "God, help me to hunger and thirst for your righteousness in me."
5. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
When we choose to give mercy to others who we feel may or may not deserve it, what we're really saying is, "God, I trust your justice over my own." And the truth is that you and I deserve judgment outside of the work of Jesus. When we treat others with the same mercy we've received from Jesus, we experience that mercy freshly.
6. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
We can't do this on our own. Scripture's clear that our hearts are deceitful, wicked, and self-seeking. But when we continually seek to empty ourselves and live God's way instead of our own, we see His ways more clearly. And by reaction, we can see and know Him more clearly, too.
7. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
"This does not describe those who live in peace, but those who actually bring about peace, overcoming evil with good." To witness and participate in bringing God's Kingdom to earth is one of His greatest calls. We do that in the small acts of grace we show to our coworkers or family members. We also do this in bringing relief and restoration to brokenness we find in our neighborhoods and cities.
8. Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
Persecution is such a tough subject for those of us who live in "comfortable" America, where the highest amount of persecution we may receive is a dirty look from a coworker. My greatest challenge in this is to not live safely. It's easy for "American Christianity" to just be a part of our lives that doesn't stir the pot or create uncomfortableness for others or ourselves. When I think about the stories of the early church and true persecution, I think of men and women who were willing to look like complete fools that even one person would understand the God who loves them. How "out of my way" am I willing to go to listen and obey the true voice of God? To what degree would His voice be just a little too crazy or weird for me to say, "Yeah, probably not that." And how can I stretch myself and invite the work of the Spirit in my life instead of doing what just feels like enough to me?
I pray that Jesus' words would stir up your heart to think differently about your circumstances. I pray that you would live a truly blessed life. I pray that whatever you feel stuck by would loosen its grip on you as you pursue the way of Jesus. And I pray that God would direct your thoughts and actions to what matters most: His voice and His way.