By Stephen Underwood, Missionary to Argentina
“11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be
exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” Matthew 5:11, 12
In my devotions the other day, I was reading through the beatitudes in the Gospel of Matthew. Like many other times, the Holy Spirit drew out these two
verses, I believe, to teach me what I needed for that moment.
So many times, I have been guilty of focusing on the circumstances I face that I forget, first and foremost, that I AM BLESSED! As a child of God, I have been
made a new creature, and my eternity is forever secured with Him and by Him! God has given me a wonderful wife and two precious boys, and we are
allowed to serve Him together. I am blessed most of all because of who He is and not simply because of what He has given me.
It should never come to me as a surprise that in this life we will suffer persecution for His name’s sake! Verse 11 does not say, “Blessed are ye, IF men shall revile you.” Rather, it says, “WHEN men shall revile you.” Persecution, trials, and hardships are not a matter of ‘IF’ they happen, but ‘WHEN’ they happen. I
must remember that I do not deserve what Christ has blessed me with anyway, but that He loves me and is gracious toward me!
My response to persecution and evil speaking should never be an attitude of pity or self-sorrow; instead I should rejoice and be exceedingly glad! Not only
do I have Heaven to look forward to, as if Heaven were not reward enough, but verse 12 speaks of a great reward that awaits us!
These verses remind me that I have a choice, and I must decide whether I will react or will biblically and spiritually respond to persecution and trials. It is amazing to me that Jesus’ first message dealt with our spiritual attitudes, reminding us that we are blessed and that we must choose our outlook and attitude. May God continue to grant me the wisdom and strength to focus on my blessings rather than on my problems so that I may rejoice and be exceedingly glad!