And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said:
“Blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God.
“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.
“Blessed are you when people hate you and when they exclude you and revile you and spurn your name as evil, on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven; for so their fathers did to the prophets.” Luke 6:20-23.
Whatever you are suffering, make sure it is because of your faithfulness to God. And if your suffering is hard to find the reason for it, put it into perspective. As Paul said, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18).
When I consider all the possessions I have owned over the past 40 years, and all the hours I worked to pay for and maintain them, as well as moving them from house to house, the relative poverty I am experiencing now is pretty sweet. Of course, it is American poverty, where I am surrounded by and use a lot of modern infrastructure that makes me rich relative to living in Haiti or Bangladesh.
But what if I suffered the harsh, third world poverty of hunger, sickness, exposure, and actual oppression? It would be tempting to consider the ease of others and become bitter. Or to plot a course to a better place, a heaven on earth. Or I could contemplate the very short term of suffering and the eternal destination of peace and joy. That might change how I actually feel about my privations. Whatever my circumstances, “Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:11-13).