I find these two verses to be the most amazing out of all the Beatitudes. Maybe it is because the other Beatitudes I have been able to review my life and have found times when I could very much relate to what Jesus was saying. In this Beatitude, I have not. There has never really been a time when I felt persecuted because of my faith. Yes, maybe it wasn't the "popular" thing to do, to have a strong faith. Yet, I never felt I was persecuted about my faith. What I hope and pray is that if I was ever put into a persecuted situation, I would respond as Jesus asks me to respond. I pray that every time I hear about people who have done so.
There are so many members of the Bible who have felt this persecution. The disciples, Paul, etc., are all examples of those who have been persecuted for their faith. Yet, it isn't just in times "long ago" where people have suffered. I remember hearing about a student at the Columbine shootings. With all that was going on, one of the shooters asked a teenage girl to renounce her faith. She did not. It cost her her life. Would I do that if I was in that situation? Would I have the courage?
There are examples of people who live in countries where Christianity is not the prominent religion - in fact - you can be killed for living out your Christian faith in those countries. Yet, there are many people who live there and not only live a Christian faith, but help to teach others of the Good News. These people take such risks for their faith and some certainly face constant badgering from family and friends. There is also the constant threat of physical harm and violence. Yet, they continue to preach, they continue to pray, they continue to live out Jesus' love.
Of course, most recently, we have heard of the Christians who have been persecuted, tortured, and killed by members of ISIS. Another example of being persecuted, to the point of death, in order to believe in Jesus. I am certain that many of us can bring other examples of those who gave their lives for the One who gave His life.
That's faith! That's the strength in the face of persecution. I look at those examples and am in awe. Would I do that? Would I stand strong in my faith? I would like to believe that my faith would be stronger than me in those situations. I trust God will be with me regardless of what faces me. With the focus of this Beatitude, I want to stay strong, to stand tall, and to share Jesus regardless of any persecution. I pray that I will do this for the One who gave His life for me.
This concludes the study of the Beatitudes. Thank you for coming on this journey with me. I have always wanted to spend time with these verses and study the words Jesus gave us. I pray that you have found this time together worthwhile and that the Beatitudes have a new meaning for you. I know that they do for me as I strive to live my life closer to Jesus' words.
"Dear Jesus, thank you for your teachings in the Beatitudes. As we dove deep into your words, I pray that your words dove deep into our hearts. May the strength that comes from The Beatitudes help us to be strong, have courage, and believe in the purpose of being a Christian. Please bless our efforts in this light and guide us to be all that you want us to be. In your name, Amen."