Have you ever read through the Beatitudes in Matthew 5 and just longed to have them be true in your life? You want to know Christ and to love Him because nothing else in life really matters. Your heart aches for the kingdom of Heaven, and for the comfort he can provide. Your desire is to be filled with the good things that He promises... mercy, seeing God, being a child of God, inheriting the kingdom of heaven.
But then, you look again and you see what you are asking and you start to feel afraid...
To be poor in spirit - unable to offer Him even one thing that is worth anything.
To mourn - having our heart pierced through with sorrow .
To be meek... not important... overlooked... and gentle - even when treated unkindly .
To hunger and thirst after true righteousness in a world where the word has come to mean just the opposite.
To be merciful - when showing mercy is seen as being weak or naive - or even ungodly.
To be pure in heart - when innocence is looked down upon.
To be a peacemaker rather than taking sides.
And to expect and accept and rejoice in any suffering of the mind, emotions and body when they impact your life while you desire to know Christ.
It seems that to receive the good that is promised by Christ in the Beatitudes there must be suffering. Suffering. "Night school in the School of God" as one author put it. But, oh! It is a beautiful darkness when Christ is there!! Our life as a follower of Christ isn't just a surface ride over the waves of life, skimming along claiming verses that promise eternal life, having all we desire, and praying that every need (or - more often - want) that we have might be fulfilled. More often it is filled with deep inward and outward trials - some shareable, many not - that take our breath away and cause us to either rest deeper in the Saviour or turn away from Him altogether. And sometimes, when you feel you can't handle one more thing, there is another, and another, and another layer of suffering added until you feel as though you are under water and that the darkness around you is so thick that you don't even know where to look because you aren't sure where up is. And you know that you are a sinner and don't deserve God's mercy, and you don't even know how to pray. And your heart has to choose to respond correctly - the words to say, the actions to take - even when your mind doesn't understand. And so you choose to trust, and you learn to rest and, even though the stress takes a toll on your body and mind, your spirit grows in grace without you knowing it. And then, suddenly, when you don't feel you can take one more step, God gives you just a glimpse of His Glory in the deep darkness that surrounds you. And that glimpse so overwhelms you that you can't even speak of it because it can't be described. And you begin to see that often God takes us into the darkness to reveal His light - answering our prayer to learn Christ.
It still frightens me to pray for the qualities of the Beatitudes to be evident in my life. In my human- ness I can't see how I could even handle some of the things I have watched or heard of others enduring. But I can't help praying for those beautiful virtues anyway. I have tasted and seen that the Lord is good. I can trust him. Even in the dark.