16 July, 2023
Ahhh, if only we could live without all the stress that life today can place upon us.
Today we spend some time in the Sermon on the Mount that Matthew shares in his gospel. The Sermon on the Mount lasts for some 3 chapters and is often referred to as a collection of sayings of Jesus that emphasizes his moral teachings. I’ve also heard preachers read these chapters verbatim as their sermon script on a Sunday morning.
The most well-known section of the Sermon on the Mount is the Beatitudes and that is where we begin. This is the section that begins “Blessed are….” and speaks of the blessings that God brings to us particularly when it seems we should not be blessed.
But just because we are blessed, and we have to admit that we are amazingly blessed, doesn’t mean that we won’t be stressed. Even people of faith endure stress, anxiety, and vulnerability. Here Jesus is announcing a kingdom where those truly blessed by God are not the ones the world believes are blessed. It is another example of just how counter cultural the Good News can be.
So, what does it mean to be blessed? Do we take that blessing for granted or dismiss it because we are stressed out and not doing well?
Psalm 69 begins with the words “Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck.” This is a cry from the writer – we are told that this psalm was written by David – for help when he cannot see help coming and is asking for deliverance from persecution. I don’t know about you, but I can certainly feel some stress in these words.
One of the things the Psalms teach us is that it is ok to question God, to rant and rave at God, to be angry with God and to be unsure of God’s presence with us. It is God that the writers, and we need to do the same, turn to when things are not going as we think they should. It is to God that we should be handing our concerns and troubles to. Now that doesn’t mean they will go away, or that everything will immediately be ok, but as we trust in God and share our lives with God, God’s presence will be with and in everything we do and experience.
This subject reminds me of the song “I never promised you a rose garden”. The promise we get from God is presence, love, grace, forgiveness and blessing. All of this makes things a little easier to endure, we are not alone and hopefully that means we are a little less stressed.