Blessings and Woes

In the past 10 months, my faith has grown as never before. The Lord has allowed us to go through very difficult times. We were looking forward to the birth of our son in late June as the start of a season of joy in our family. The Lord has other plans. Kai was due June 25th, on June 20th he died. Our hearts still ache. Some days are better than others. Some hours are better than others. In the midst of all this, the Lord continues to teach us.

I have been trying to flesh out the lessons learned in these past 10 months. It has not been easy. God is faithful. From time to time He has spoken so clearly from His Word to encourage, guide, and direct us. This morning was one of those times. Yesterday, Matthea shared with me what she had read from Luke 6. This is the record in Luke of the Sermon on the Mount (found in Matthew 5-7). In verses 20-26 Jesus teaches about blessings and woes. The lesson is so clear!

Jesus mentions 4 life situations to describe the blessed person.  In verses 20-23 He says:

“Blessed are you when you are poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God. Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh. Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in Heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.”

The last two seem to mark our lives in the past months. As a pastor, God calls me to do hard things. Sometimes that rubs people the wrong way. Unfortunately, some respond by getting angry at the pastor. I have been on the receiving end of that. I am human and I have made mistakes. I understand when people are upset for the mistakes I make.  But it is a difficult thing to hear the hateful things said about me ‘on account of the Son of Man.’ Each of us has to answer to the Lord.  Each of us must walk in obedience to Him.  I know it comes with the territory of being in ministry. Jesus knows it too. That’s why He reminds us here to have the proper perspective during the tough seasons of ministry. Our enemy, the devil, can have a field day in our minds when we have the wrong perspective. Perhaps this is why the following words were spoken by Jesus in verses 24-26,

“but woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry. Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. Woe to you when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.”

Do you see the parallel? Blessed are the poor, hungry, mourners, and those being hated for Jesus. Woe to the rich, those who are full, those who laugh, and those who everyone speaks well of. These are complete opposites! Jesus’ point is that we must measure everything with a Kingdom, eternal perspective. The other option is to focus on the physical and temporal. The world says, “be rich, full, happy, and have a good reputation.” Jesus says that these goals are completely wrong! The enemy, the devil, tempts us to think these should be our goals. He tempts us to think that we have done something wrong when we are not “rich, full, happy, and loved by all.” But Jesus says “Woe!” to these people. The word “woe” can be interpreted to mean “there is impending doom”.

When we are following Jesus with all that we are, we must be prepared to be poor, hungry, weeping, and lied about. Jesus promises that eternity will be the ultimate time of reckoning. If we decide to live our lives for the world’s pleasures, there is impending doom. If we decide to live our lives to serve Jesus with all that we are, there will be pain in this life. There will be heartache and broken relationships. But the promise is that there is an eternal perspective. May the Lord help us to always see things in the eternal perspective.

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