As we write this message, we have faced a rough three weeks (a rough 6 months, actually, but this has been a peak for me). It started with my mom demonstrating some weird or funny (humorous on any other occasion) behaviors. This awkwardness was followed by a trip to the ER where they found a large frontal lobe brain tumor. Surgery followed, then home care, and now another tumor with bleeding and another surgery is what lay before us. It all has been tested: our faith, our strength and endurance, our attitudes, our very character. There are no people to fight in this battle, the enemy is a tumor I can’t touch. The only thing that makes it through is honesty, attentive and patient care to the ones in need, mourning together and laughing together, graciously understanding where each other is weak, and relentlessly pursuing God’s will in the storm’s midst.
I also struggled with writing this message for a long time. One because of past hurts that made me question my abilities and value as a writer and two, because of the facebook post above… my struggle with vulnerability. Vulnerability is the core of the BeAttitudes, a choice to live open hearted, willing to be in need, to experience grief and a range of emotions beyond our control, to humbly submit to the will of others, to relentlessly pursue what is right (to desire it even), to let go of failed expectations, to be cleared of thorns and weeds that threaten, to take on the fight for justice and peace and to lack praise for these things but instead be criticized for them. Because I chose to do these things in an abusive relationship and suffered the consequences, I have feared this attitude in my heart. I have still held fast to the existence of this heart, yet been afraid to show it out of fear of repeat hurt. There are other reasons some may resist this vulnerability: pride, ego, fear of rejection, blindness, a need for control, self-righteousness or even self-sufficiency to name a few. Whatever the reasons, what ultimately is at stake when one refuses vulnerability is an intimate relationship.
And that intimate relationship is what God desires with each of us. So, Jesus begins his teaching preparing our hearts to enter this relationship.
1) Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
A) An intimate relationship requires that we recognize our need for it, for others, for His spirit. Tim Keller said “It’s like seeing that you are deeply in debt before God, and you have no ability to even begin to redeem yourself.”
B) God provides those who are poor with the riches of His Kingdom.
2) Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted.
A) Grief is a natural part of life. To build intimacy, we must be willing to express the vast range of emotions.
B) Those emotions are witnessed by God, and He is the friend who walks with us through them.
3) Blessed are the meek for they will inherit the earth.
4) Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
5) Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy.
6) Blessed are the pure in heart for they will see God.
7) Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called sons of God.
8) Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
In her TED Talk on “The Power of Vulnerability”, Brene Brown calls these people who are willing to live with vulnerability “whole hearted”. She says that “vulnerability is the core of shame and fear and our struggles for worthiness but also is the birthplace of joy, creativity, belonging, and love.”