I always say that things go in streaks. Everything goes smoothly for a while, then something comes along and sabotages those blissful moments of peace. During those moments, all good intentions are brushed aside and that little pitchfork of frustration, worry, and yes, sometimes even anger raises its not too subtle head. Are they, as we are so often assured, just emotions – human in form and perfectly normal? After all, Jesus experienced these same emotions as well. Yet, there is something unsettling about them.
   So I wondered about Jesus’ words, Love others as yourself; Bless those who persecute you. Still unsettled, I turned to Matthew 5 – the Beatitudes – all the many blessings of God right from the mouth of Jesus. Blessed are…the poor in spirit; those who mourn; the meek; those who thirst for righteousness; the merciful; the pure in heart; the peacemakers; the persecuted and reviled (actually a double blessing for this last group). How could one feel blessed when people hurt you or when pain seems to surround you?
   Then realization struck… these are not blessings for being good, having good feelings every moment, they are for living life – the good as well as the bad moments that catch us by surprise. They are assurances that God is with us, loves us in all moments, even in our most frustrating and ugly moments. They are assurances that no matter what is going on in our hearts, we are still blessed. Why? Because God loves us; because God never leaves; because God never causes discomfort or pain but sends the Holy Spirit to comfort, guide, and encourage. This is the root of these 
blessings, the joy and peace sprouting from a love that always blesses and is always present, even when it seems way too elusive. We will, at times, worry or hurt or get angry or be enveloped in sorrow. Yet, even in these moments, we are overshadowed by a love that shines more brightly than any cloud that could ever come over our horizon. Jesus once said, Do not doubt but believe (John 20:27). And yes, our cry can even be, "I believe; help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24).

Pastor Mary