“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven... Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” — Matthew 5:3, 10
Jesus’ famous Sermon on the Mount begins with the blessing statements in our reading today. These have become known as the Beatitudes (from the Latin for “blessed”), and they are not only for the crowd Jesus spoke to that day, but also for us. Here Jesus declares that to some belong the kingdom of heaven: to “the poor in spirit” and to “those who are persecuted because of righteousness.”
I like to think of these two groups as the forlorn and the forsaken.
Forlorn: All is lost—it’s hopeless! What am I going to do?
Forsaken: Pushed beyond our limits, we feel like we are all alone.
In The Message, Eugene Peterson writes of the forlorn: “You’re blessed when you are at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule [in your life].” And of the forsaken he says, “You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom.”
None of us wants to be forlorn or forsaken, but it is often in the valleys, the trying times in our lives, that we find God finding us. As Psalm 23:4 says, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” We are blessed, knowing that the King is for us and his kingdom is within us.