“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.” – Matthew 5:3-5 (NRSV)
“Poverty of spirit” can also be described as that place in which we come to the end of ourselves, where we realize how powerless we are to change events, and we are reminded that the world doesn’t revolve around us. When we can’t make good things happen, or we aren’t able to reverse a loss, we naturally get discouraged. It’s hard to accept that ultimately we are NOT in charge. When we come to that place where we understand we are mortal, fallible and we can’t fix it all, we realize that God is our Source, and that our “forever home” is God’s Kingdom. When we are put in the place of not being able to be self-reliant, we see how we are meant to be God-reliant, and that God provides for us.
Mourning is a place where everyone has been, from minor mourning, say mourning the loss of one’s youth, or mourning a small disappointment such as cancelled dinner plans, to major mourning such as losing a spouse or a parent. There are floods of emotions and processes to be worked through that surface in mourning- as author Elizabeth Kubler-Ross discussed in her book On Death and Dying. There is denial, anger, bargaining, depression and finally acceptance all wrapped up – and sometimes all going on at the same time- as one mourns.
God is especially close to the hearts of those who mourn. Mourning reveals our heart and requires us to strip away the habits and the assorted fronts we hide behind. Mourning forces us to feel. It acts like sandpaper cleaning off the hardness of our hearts and revealing the purity and tenderness that God desires in us. As we surrender our mourning to God, He enters in, weeping with us as Jesus wept with Lazarus’ friends at the news of Lazarus’ death. In mourning our hearts are opened to God’s comfort and peace. He gives us the hope and assurance that there is life beyond the heartache and trouble of this world.
Meekness is not to be confused with weakness. Jesus’ brand of meekness is not being a doormat or a milquetoast, but it is about being respectful and nurturing toward others. Meekness requires that we put aside the desires for me, me, me and look at how we can serve the greater good of others and the community.
Meekness brings us to a place of humility and deference to others. It asks of us to be aware of our own limitations and to put the needs and desires of others above our own.
All three of these beautiful attitudes share a common thread. They bring us closer to the heart of Jesus. They help us respond to God’s grace and mercy that has been freely given to us.