Matthew 5:3-4 (NRSV)

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.


Over the past two years, I’ve become uncomfortably familiar with this text. It’s from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, in the section called “The Beatitudes,” and in it, Jesus says that those who are down, grieving, timid, hungry, persecuted, etc. are blessed. It was printed in sympathy card after sympathy card after my mother’s passing. I almost felt like the more I read it, the less it felt true.

Because I’ve lost someone close to me, somehow I’m blessed?

I did not feel blessed, I felt angry. Sometimes I still feel angry. She died from malpractice – that’s not a blessing. It’s an interesting list that Jesus offers here though. He’s not saying that you must be mourning, scared, and sick in order to be blessed, but he is saying that those who go through such hardship in their lives experience God and God’s love in ways that others perhaps haven’t. When both my parents’ health was failing simultaneously, my new seminary friends banded together to be a support system for me. They made sure I felt God’s embrace no matter what. That support came from people and churches across the country and across the world. I didn’t know many of the people who were praying for my family. Then I began talking to people in new ways. I was able to have very vulnerable and meaningful conversations with others who’ve experienced close loss, especially if it was with someone who also lost a parent. These people and I were able to offer one another an empathy we struggled to find elsewhere. I can now minister in a way that I couldn’t before.

This of course does not mean that hardship happens by God’s will or anything like that, but it means that when people truly act as God’s hands and feet in the world, they can be a blessing to those who need to be reminded of God’s grace and presence. It means that struggling in life does not have to separate us from God.

By Rachel Callender

For Pondering & Prayer

What has someone done to show you God’s love when you needed it most? Who is someone that you can extend that love toward?

Prayer: Your Word continues to offer us hope. We pray that we see your goodness in the world even when our lives seem dark. We earnestly pray, Lord, that we can extend your gift of grace to those who need to hear it today. Bless those who do not feel blessed, for they too are your beloved children. In the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.