For my friend,
I believe it was the writings of Henri Nouwen that first made me think about the blessings Jesus talked about (also known as The Beatitudes) as the stages of healing from old wounds and the process of forgiveness. This has also been part of my journey.
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
We come to a point where we realize we do not have what we need to fix our lives by ourselves. We definitely do not have it all together. This is good! It feels awful, but it is a vital step in accessing the kingdom of God. We enter humbly and not with a sense of entitlement. It feels like loss. It feels like that moment when you think you’ve reached the bottom of the stairs, but your foot continues to fall. Old temporary foundations fail and we feel like there is no place left to stand.
That’s what it’s supposed to feel like. Call out to God, “Help!”
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
We admit our faults and are willing to examine the lies we have accepted. By acknowledging that we have created false idols and ineffectual coping mechanisms, by feeling remorse for the hurt we have caused ourselves and others, and by grieving for the resulting losses we receive comfort.
Tell God exactly how you feel, even if you are angry with him. He knows anyway.
Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
I like this definition of meek: teachable. Meekness means, “I know I don’t have the answers but I am capable of learning, Lord. Teach me.” We sit at the feet of Jesus Christ and listen. When we listen, really listen, we gain an understanding of how God can use anything to work together for our good.
Open your heart to receive your inheritance.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
At this stage we develop a greater hunger for God and long to be in good relationship with him. (note: this is not the first stage. The desire for God increases as we give up our own methods of coping, get honest, and listen. Don’t worry. It will come.) Then, when we let go of the stupid stuff we are hanging onto, which we thought would ease our pain and give us a sense of purpose and significance, like on the Hoarders TV show, he starts to come in and take the junk away. In its place he leaves more satisfying things, like love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, meekness, and self-control. He equips us with gifts (tools) to fulfil our destiny.
Throw out the rotten junk food. Feast on the righteousness Jesus provides..
Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
At this stage we can look up and see the struggles of others. We can see we are not alone and can dare to be empathetic, compassionate and reach out to help others without being pulled under again ourselves -because we are giving out of the abundance the Holy Spirit’s provision for us and within us, and not out of duty or a need to “be a something.” We are aware of his love. We can finally feel it. We can start to be ourselves and give more freely of ourselves.
Let his love flow through you.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
Innocence can’t be restored, but purity can. Without purity, spiritually sensitive people will be overly consumed by the presence of evil, but with restored purity we can see, like Elisha’s servant, that the forces for God are much greater. We have no reason to live in fear. Impurity, in its many forms, leads to bitterness and complaining which result in anxiety and fear. Purity leads to assurance and confident courage as we can now have our eyes opened to the nature and ways of God.
Be willing to see beyond expectations of disappointment.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.
We start to relate differently. We are not as impatient or prone to make judgments on people. We desire restored relationships and renewed bridges.
Give the peace you have been given.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Forgiveness is not the same as reconciliation. A fully restored relationship requires honesty on both sides. The Bible tells us “As much as is possible be at peace with all men.” We humbly, but confidently do what we can, but the results are not always what we would like. We’re blessed, at peace and learning to comprehend more who we are in Christ. Less and less do we need to buy into into the world’s coping mechanisms, or the excuses of those whose theology is strongly influenced by disappointment. Possessing the peace that passes understanding sometimes means relinquishing the right to understand.
Take the risk of countering attack with goodness.
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.
It’s surprising how some people react when you tell them God healed you or worked miraculously to change your heart. Some will say, “You’ve changed. Change back.” Some are happy for you, but others say, “Prove it.” Some will be offended. Jealousy is not satisfied until a reputation has been destroyed.
Who knew? Well God did, so he warns you. And he says you’re in good company, so rejoice. Spending time getting to know God, learning to hearing him speak in many different ways, and having a restored relationship with him is ever so much more fun than depression, anxiety and living a lie. God is good. Very, very good.
We have the privilege of repeating this process many times in life. I say privilege because each step comes with a new blessing. Sometimes it feels like we are going in circles, but we are actually going in spirals, going deeper each time. Sometimes we feel like we spend an inordinate amount of time on one step, but he is faithful and doesn’t give up on us. He understands our pain and sends the Holy Spirit to come along side on the journey.
May the Lord bless you and keep you, my friend. May he make his face shine upon you, be gracious to you and give you peace.