I believe it was the writings of Henri Nouwen that first made me think about the blessings of Jesus as the stages of healing the mind. This has also been part of my journey. His ways are not our ways. Jesus’ kingdom is a kingdom upside down.
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. This doesn’t feel good. It feels like loss -like when you think you’ve reached the bottom of the stairs, but your foot continues to fall, like there will never be a bottom. It feels like coming to the end of your rope. Good. 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 coping idols and 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. It is saying “I know I don’t have the answers but I am capable of learning, Lord. Teach me.” When we listen to God, really listen, we gain an understanding of how he created things to work together for good. We sit at the feet of Jesus Christ. 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. Make room for righteousness.
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 them 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.
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 aware of evil of 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 leads to anxiety and fear. Purity leads to assurance and confident courage as we can now have our eyes opened to the things of God. Be willing to see beyond the obvious.
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.
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 works miraculously to change your heart. Some are happy for you, others say, “Prove it,” others are offended.
“I’ve been praying for years and God never healed me, why do you deserve it when I don’t?” Some will say, “You’ve changed. Change back.”
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.
Bless you, my friend. May the Lord bless you and keep you. May he make his face shine upon you, be gracious to you and give you peace.