Recently I was presented with this challenge in my study:
“Do a solo retreat centered on the Eight Beatitudes. Prepare a space for quiet contemplation. Read the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:3-12 several times, looking for deeper levels of meaning on each reading. How do they apply to your life? Go back to the first one. Perhaps write after each reading, or rewrite the Beatitudes in your own words. Reread what you have written. Move into your week applying the message of the Beatitudes wherever possible. Notice which ones are more difficult for you. Consider why.”1
I decided to extend my ‘retreat’ over a few days during devotional times. After praying for the Holy Spirit to ignite my heart, I read the ten verses out loud a few times, attempting to ‘read from my heart’ as opposed to thinking through the verses in my head. Then I went back and considered each Beatitude separately. As I memorized the verse through repetition, it was finally possible to focus from my heart, instead of my conscious mind. Beginning to write, I considered what the verse might mean to my daily life, what my Father might want to specifically say to me, and how the verse might impact the world around me.
Here are a few of my personalized thoughts:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
I am blessed even when I am tired, depressed, confused, feeling down or unloved, when my spirit is weary or broken, because God’s kingdom is still here and now, ever-present.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
I am blessed in the midst of my mourning – for my own deficiencies, real or imagined; for my nation in all its brokenness; for my family with all its dysfunctions; for those who are sick, diseased, marginalized, abused, caught in poverty and ignorance; for the earth and the abuse heaped on it, because I have a Comforter, my nation has a Comforter, my family has a Comforter, the sick, abused and ignorant have a Comforter, the earth has a Comforter.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”
I am blessed as a meek and surrendered child of God, waiting patiently for His instruction, experiencing the peace and security of submission, because the whole earth is mine! I am free to be grounded by its energy, be calmed by its steadiness, be awed by its grandeur, be inspired by its beauty, be strengthened by laboring in it.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
I am blessed when I’m starving. I am blessed when I’m dehydrated. Starvation and dehydration compel me toward the Fount of Living of Water and the Bread of Life. When I realize where my hunger and thirst originate, I eat and drink of His fullness and bounty. Only then will I rest as a satisfied child in His arms.
Ann Halim is editor of eWeekend, a newsletter for the College View Seventh-day Adventist Church in Lincoln, Nebraska. Reprinted with permission.
1Falling Upward: A Companion Journal, Richard Rohr