What I Learned About Painful Experiences From The Beatitudes

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Audio of the message below.

The very familiar beatitudes are found in Matthew 5:1-12.  As Jesus begins the Sermon on the Mount, He takes a look around Him and begins to notice the real struggles of the people He loves.

Contrary to popular opinion he does not offer up platitudes for happier days nor just positive affirmations for good attitudes. Each of the beatitudes addresses a painful experience of the people in front of Him. Before Jesus gives any commands in this sermon, He spends a moment as the man of sorrows both sympathizing with them and giving them hope.

What I learned about painful experiences from reading the beatitudes can be summed up in three observations.

Painful Experiences Are Common. No doubt seated before Him are those who have been dealing with the prideful Pharisees, and maybe some of them were prideful Pharisees who recognized their own sin. How many there had lost loved ones during persecution and mourned their losses? How indignant were they that they were an occupied nation, tempted to use their strength to strike out instead of controlling themselves to bless others?

The truth is that everyone experiences pain in life. This week we will begin a GriefShare series. Like every time before we will see the expressionless faces of those still shell-shocked by sudden losses that have left them feeling helpless and vulnerable. I remember walking into a Compassionate Friends meeting for the first time. I remember how much pain there was in that room. I could barely stay. Your pain may not be loss, it may be a struggle for your health. Disease that scares you. A relationship that is falling apart. A child that is making all the wrong choices.

Man who is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. (Job 14:1 NKJV)

The beatitudes teach me that Jesus knows we will all face pain in our lives. He doesn’t ignore that. He is drawn to it with HIs compassionate heart. And that is why He can handle our response. The second thing I learned about painful experiences from the beatitudes is…

PAINFUL EXPERIENCES CAUSE US TO QUESTION. The questions swim in our head and it is so hard not to be dominated by them. For those gathered before Jesus there may have been questions like…

-Why do we not have our own kingdom?

-Why does God allow us to be persecuted?

-Where is the Messiah who will save us?

-Why not just give up and live for ourselves?

-What would be wrong with using force against the Romans?

I don’t know if those are your questions. I think today we ask questions more along the line of these…

-Is God real? Does He care?

-What did I do wrong, am I being punished?

-Why did God allow this to happen in my life but not in the lives of people who hate him?

These questions are natural, and we can be assured that God does not reject us because we do not understand.

… whoever comes to me I will never drive away.” (John 6:37)

So go ahead and ask your questions. I wish I could answer them all. Even Jesus, in the beatitudes, acknowledges the pain and questions of the people without offering immediate solutions. In fact, if we read the beatitudes we come away with another thing we can learn about painful experiences.

PAINFUL EXPERIENCES ARE FOLLOWED BY BLESSING. Jesus communicates to the hurting people around him that a blessing is to be expected. He does not promise to take the pain away, to remove our heartache, or that justice will be found today. He does promise to make all things right.

The poor will be rich. The mourning will be comforted. The meek will overcome. The hungry will be filled. The merciful will receive mercy. The pure will see God. The peacemakers will be children of God. The persecuted will be rewarded.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)

We don’t always like to hear that passage. It sounds trite … but I believe it is true. And I believe we need to remember that God doesn’t promise that every situation is good. He just promises that within the painful experiences we endure, He will work toward our good. It is, admittedly, hard to see sometimes. As some of the beatitudes suggest, we may have to wait until heaven for some of them to come to pass. But a blessing is on its way…. not just a giggly happiness, but a deep seated knowledge of the approval and love of God.

Which of these beatitudes speaks into the pain you are experiencing today? What blessing do you need from Him? Jesus knows There are hurting people everywhere … and here today. He doesn’t  want to mask your pain, but to walk with you through it and ultimately heal it.

And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4 He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” Revelation 21:3-5

Trustworthy and true. I need those words. As Jesus begins one of his most famous sermons, he acknowledges the pain and needs of those gathered around Him… and us. And you. Trust Him.

Thanks for reading,

John