>Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit,
     for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
     for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
     for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
     for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
     for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
     for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
     for they will be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
     for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
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. Matthew 5:3-12

The beatitudes have always seemed like funny little riddles to me. I’m not trying to disrespect them. After all, they are the “red letter” words of Jesus Himself. It’s just that, honestly, I’ve never parked at the beatitudes for very long. Maybe it’s hard to “be happy” when I know that I’m about to get pounded with the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7).

One author calls the beatitudes “sacred paradoxes.” They express both present and future blessedness. The “poor in spirit” will possess the Kingdom presently as they belong to Jesus and potentially when they enter Eternity. They have part of it now and are waiting for the rest.

But, to be honest, Jesus instructs us to be happy about some rather difficult circumstances: poverty, mourning, hunger, thirst and persecution to name a few. We don’t really find much happiness in those circumstances.

Obviously, “happy” means more than just being happy. The idea is more of a deep inner joy. Happiness is based on happenstance (do you see the similarity). If I’m in a good circumstance, then I’m happy. If I’m in a bad situation, then I’m unhappy.

Joy doesn’t depend on our circumstances. In fact, joy can be sort of ludicrous. The writer of Hebrews says, “You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions” (Hebrews 10:34). That’s just crazy. Seriously crazy. And, seriously needed.

Right now, you and I could easily come up with a couple dozen things that we are unhappy about. (Don’t go there.) Without regard for our circumstances, God intervenes in ridiculous ways. He knows how temporary the situation is. He knows the grand scheme of things. He knows the end result.

God is saying to you and me today: “Oh, you’re poor in spirit, well, I just can’t wait to show you what’s in store. You’re mourning today, I’m going to work in your life to provide all of the comfort you need. You hunger and thirst for righteousness and just can’t stand the injustice in the world, boy, do I have something in store for you.”

Do you feel blessed today? God wants you to have His “joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8, KJV).

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