Matthew 5 – the Beatitudes
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
If you aren’t familiar with the Beatitude, it’s part of a longer piece in the book of Matthew that recounts Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount. The beginning of Matthew 5 is a whole list like this, telling various downtrodden groups that they are blessed because of the horrible circumstances they are experiencing.
It’s such a different perspective from our culture today, isn’t it? Instead of finding joy in the midst of suffering, we cry out, “It’s not fair!” and demand our day in the spotlight. Now, the point of what Jesus says is not that simply being pushed around leads to blessing. It is when the persecution happens for the sake of Christ that we can find joy.
It’s a long time to wait for that heavenly reward. Events of the last few years have showed me just how far away it can be in my tiny, human perspective. But when I shift my thinking from this life to the enormously impossible-to-measure span of eternity, the decades are a mere drop in the bucket.
That is why I can rejoice, even in the loss of my children – I know I will see them again. And I will have eternity to spend with them.
I have trouble identifying with the kind of suffering described in this passage, though. Yes, I’ve experienced pain and loss, but I cannot imagine the kinds of persecution faced by so many of Jesus’ first disciples. To have someone threaten to kill me if I refuse to denounce my faith? No, I don’t know what that is like. Maybe it’s because Satan learned pretty quickly that a lot of Christians will stand up and die for their faith, so he switched tactics. Instead, he keeps us quiet through embarrassment, shame, or the desire to keep the peace in our relationships. I know I’m guilty of that, but I pray that God will continue to use me despite my failings. Thankfully I have plenty of evidence in Scripture that God indeed uses the weak to carry His message to the world.
Lord, give me Your words to speak, that I may rejoice even in the midst of trouble.