Not having been there at the time the Beatitudes were originally said, I do not know for sure why they were ever spoken. However, I think it safe to surmise that they were felt to be pertinent and important for the audience to hear. While they were uttered almost two thousand years ago, I do think they are still relatable. Today, I am featuring a guest post, written by a college student several years ago. In it this student explains why the Beatitudes are just as pertinent today as when they were first spoken. Life was messy then. Life is messy now, regardless of who we are.
“Sometimes I just can’t relate to the Bible. To be clear, I like the Bible. The stories are engaging, scandalous, and funny (well, if you can decipher 1st century humor), with good morals and memorable characters. So while I do like the Bible, I don’t always feel like I can relate to it. I have little in common with the authors: kings and prophets sent to inspire the masses with divine intervention when things got rough. I don’t know about you, but I’m no prophet. I’m barely a king.
“So while I do like the Bible, often when I read it I do so as though I would read a novel about Afghanistan or an article about outer space: a interesting story about a different world that I will never see. The story may be real, but it is very far away, the people are not like me, and the surroundings are not familiar—while I may have sympathy, I cannot have empathy. It is like a news report that I read, murmur a judgment on, and discard, already forgotten, as I move on to the next. However, in today’s passage from Psalm 44, the saints and martyrs with whom I have nothing in common are gone. In their place is a scared, lonely, confused individual, someone who is struggling to understand why God is so silent while they are suffering. This is a very human passage written by a very vulnerable human. This is a passage I can relate to.
“Lent is a funny time, but it is necessary. We spend so much of our lives pretending that everything’s okay, masking our pain and confusion, thinking that everyone else seems to have life figured out, so we should, too. However, I believe that it is in being truly vulnerable that we find our greatest strength. It is in letting others see just how scared, lonely, and confused we really are that we allow them to do the same. Once we let each other in behind the walls of confidence and brave faces only then can we truly begin to build each other up, to rely on each other. If you get a chance these next 40 days of Lent, be vulnerable. It’s scary, and uncomfortable, and takes far more faith than you would imagine. It’s what Lent is all about. Be vulnerable. After all, isn’t that something we can all relate to?”
I think the Beatitudes are pertinent because they are words we can all relate to and understand. They speak of misery, of pain, of unfulfilled goals and yet, within each of those things, there is hope and a reason to forge ahead through life’s messes. Few of us are kings and even fewer prophets and yet, we all get scared, lonely, discouraged. By keeping our faith, we can find the strength to carry on with our living and discover success. More on the treasure hunt of life in the next post. Until then, be vulnerable. It is something we all find relatable.