Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
– Jesus, Matthew 5:10
Am I persecuted because of righteousness? Not really. At least, not in the most obvious sense of the term. So, it’s been extremely difficult to write about this beatitude! The closest thing I know to persecution for the sake of my righteousness has been internal. When I’ve made decisions in solidarity with the Gentle Whisper in my heart that challenges the very core of how I’ve identified myself up to that point, it can feel oppressive.
With Shawna and I making a move to Portland and figuring it out as we go along, there are heavy moments of self-doubt, anxiety, and insecurity. There is something wonderful that happened inside which brought us to this point of active trust, but then a bit of fear will creep in and beat the crap out of us until we have no trust left, if we let it. This is an internal persecution.
Now, when I apply Jesus’ words in Matthew 5:10 to this, it gives me hope. At moments when I see the emotional gang of thugs made up of fear, doubt, and anxiety, I learn to look beyond them. What I see beyond them is Shawna and I becoming closer and falling more deeply in love. I see our dependance and trust in God liberating us to love each other and those around us without expectations for what we might get in return. I see an adventure.
Once I’m able to see the kingdom of love, hope, and joy that await us beyond the hostile posse of emotions and thoughts encircling my heart and mind, suddenly, that “kingdom” is not far off “over there,” but with me and within me. It becomes mine and I become Its. That ragtag group of fear then dissipates or gets in line with us. Peace (beyond understanding) settles in.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
– Philippians 4:7