“Blessed”

"Blessed" (CaD 1 Sam 19) Wayfarer

Saul tried to pin him to the wall with his spear, but David eluded him as Saul drove the spear into the wall. That night David made good his escape.
1 Samuel 19:6 (NIV)

If you’ve followed my blog/podcast for any length of time, you know that Wendy and I typically have a “word” on which we focus every year. My word for this year is “blessed,” and this has led me to memorize Matthew 5:3-12, which is the opening of Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount” also known as “the Beatitudes.”

A few weeks ago I was with a friend who was asking me some really good questions about life. I recounted with him some of the life challenges Wendy and I have experienced and are experiencing this year. As I got through the list, my friend exclaimed, “Wow!” He then asked me, “And what is your word for this year?”

“Blessed.”

We shared a good laugh together.

One of the observations I’ve made along my spiritual journey is that it’s quite common for people, myself included, to assume that life should be easy. When I encounter troubles or trials on life’s road, it surprises me. I didn’t see it coming. I wasn’t prepared. My natural response is often pessimism, complaint, and descent into a funk of despair.

In today’s chapter, Saul’s madness and obsession with killing his rival, David, only intensifies. David has done nothing wrong to deserve Saul’s homicidal rage. In fact, David is living a “blessed” life. A shepherd boy from a backwater town, he has been anointed king by Samuel, become a royal minstrel, defeated Goliath, become a national hero, proven himself a gifted military leader, and married a princess. Despite all this, David has big troubles. Saul is hell-bent to kill him, and because of this, his life has become untenable.

The famous psychologist, Carl Jung, would point out that David is on an archetypical “hero’s journey.” Heroes always face trials and obstacles. At some point, they find themselves in the wilderness. It’s a repetitive pattern in the epic stories we love.

It’s also a repetitive pattern in life.

As I’ve been meditating on the Beatitudes in my memorization process, it has struck me that what Jesus is really getting at is an attitude of embracing the trials, obstacles, suffering, and tragedies with humility, trust, lament, right motive, and peace (props to Mark Scandrette and his book The Ninefold Path of Jesus). There are blessings within the struggle if I will stop fighting them as some kind of heinous and unexpected aberration in life, and start to flow with God in the midst of them.

Life is filled with trials, obstacles, suffering, and unexpected tragedies.

But it doesn’t mean I’m not blessed.

Like me, David’s going to learn this the hard way.

If you know anyone who might be encouraged by today’s post, please share.

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