Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. — Matthew 5:3, NLT (Jesus speaking)
This was Jesus’ first recorded statement in what is known as his Sermon on the Mount. I have a feeling it left his audience a bit puzzled.
Poor in spirit. What does it mean?
You could translate it somewhat literally as spiritually needy or maybe spiritually famished. A modern equivalent might be depressed.
Poor in spirit means you’re all washed up, out of options, at the end of your rope.
If that sounds like you, Jesus says you’re blessed! God’s kingdom, with its wonders, its hope, its promise of healing, is right within your reach.
I’ve been depressed, more than once. It’s like being dropped into a cold, black hole in the ground.
When I’m depressed, I don’t have the strength of will to reach out for anything, not even the kingdom of heaven.
And yet, paradoxically, when I’m feeling so low that there seems to be no way out, those are the very times when I beg God for help.
For me, depression is something like being caught in a whirlpool. It happens so slowly, so subtly, that I rarely see what’s happening until I’m trapped.
Maybe it’s pride, or stubbornness, or just the life-sapping nature of the disease. But spinning around in that whirlpool, I can’t make myself take God’s hand until I’m about to be sucked under the waves.
The prodigal son was poor in spirit. He’d been wiped out financially, his clothes were in rags, he was starving, he was alone, he was wracked by guilt, he had no place to get out of the rain. Only when everything was bleakest did he decide to go home. And there he found his father waiting, ready with healing, hope, and love.
Are you poor in spirit? This is your lucky day! Jesus is standing beside you, ready to give you a hand up and out of the gutter.