Blessings and Woes

A blessing is defined as, “God’s favor and protection; a beneficial thing for which one is grateful; and/or something that brings well-being.”  Hence, I most definitely consider myself to be blessed.  Although not rich, I am overall financially secure, have an abundance of material possessions, and can afford to do things that bring me joy, such as taking trips with my wife.  In addition, I am a healthy for a man my age.
Let us now consider others in our community, our country, and our world at large who are experiencing woes.  Is there hunger, grief, and exclusion?  I don't need to look too hard, since even in the United States we can find some of these issues.  There are also those who are critically ill and battling for their lives on a daily basis, as well as those who have lost loved ones.  That’s probably much too close for comfort, since most of us may be experiencing the latter.  Then there are those who are feeling excluded, such as children being bullied and refugees trying to find asylum.

Grace and Forgiveness
Mixed media Art Journal Page
What's On Your Workdesk? Wednesday #536
Paint Party Friday - Week 28 Year 9

So what do you think Jesus is talking about in Luke 16:17-26, where he talks about blessings and woes?  I didn’t define woes, but I’m sure it means sorrows.  Have we had it all wrong for all these centuries?  If so, I guess I should congratulate people that are harassed by their peers, those going bankrupt, and those who are terminally ill.  It just doesn’t make sense, does it?  Let’s break it all down a little more, so that we can better understand what Jesus meant.  He loves making us think, doesn’t He?
I believe that Jesus, as he often did, was speaking metaphorically.  When Jesus looked up at his disciples and said that the poor, the hungry, those who weep, and those who are ill treated are blessed, he didn’t mean it literally.  All these conditions can bring major stress, hardship, and even physical death.  That’s not what God wants for us.  Blessed, as found in many other passages in the New Testament, refers to the joy we experience from sharing the “Good News” that can be found in the salvation of our Lord’s kingdom.  The poor, physically and/or spiritually, refers to those who are ultimately dependent on our Lord.  Therefore, he wants us to be like the poor, who often have a sense of their need of God more than others.  He wants us to remember the words in Matthew 4:4, which tell us to “seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness,” 

Happy Birthday - Card
Tim Holtz Dies, Thinlits, Stamps, Mini-Stapler, & Tapes; Assorted Papers; Ink Pads; Pen; and Sequins
Simon Says Stamp Monday Challenge - Stamp It!
Simon Says Stamp Wednesday Challenge - Bling It On!

As to the woes he proclaimed for those who are rich, full, joyous, and well respected, they are cautionary words.  Jesus is referring to those who chose present gratification instead of the Kingdom of God: those who store up treasures for themselves, but are not rich toward God; and those who accumulate riches at the expense of others.  He also wants us to be aware of our Father’s Grace.  In other words, we need to remember the words found in 1 Chronicles (29:14) and Galatians (6:3), which tell us, “all things come from You, and of Your own have we given You,” and that “if anyone thinks he is something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.”  Possessing wealth is not a bad thing.  What can be bad is how we use it and what it can do to our hearts.
Jesus is not glamorizing poverty and suffering of any kind.  He is also not asking us to sacrifice all of our belongings like St. Francis did, so that we can go serve other’s.  Although a virtuous and commendable way of life, vows of poverty and chastity are not for everyone.  However, Jesus knew that we tend to rely too much on our own doings, especially when things are going well.  We like to think that just having stuff, saving money for rainy days, working on having a respectful reputation, and even living a healthy life can bring us joy and peace of mind.  It’s too easy to fall into the trap of feeling invincible.  The danger in this is that we can easily forget how important God is in all of our success, and leave Him out of our lives.

Seated Navajo Woman by R.C. Gorman
Nikon D3300 Photography Edited on Pixelmator
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What Jesus is saying is that the poor, both physically, emotionally, and spiritually, are more likely to invite God into their lives.  For example, my family and I went through a period of financial instability several years ago, because I was temporarily un-employed.  It wasn't easy, because our girls were still living with us.  We had to cut back on unnecessary expenses, and live on the basics.  It was a little stressful at times, but somehow we made it through financially.  I know it's because we trusted in the Lord.  Because of this experience and others, I know that it’s during spiritually bankrupt times that we are most likely to put our absolute trust in Christ.  That is exactly what Jesus is talking about.
Therefore, the poor may help us stop seeking for personal resources of privilege and power as the way to find true joy in our lives.  Their stories can help us understand the power that can be found in the unconditional love and mercy of our Lord.  They can help us see more clearly the source of the power that allows us to succeed, because only in our Lord, can we find true healing and happiness.  

Comments

Valerie-Jael said…
That's a beautiful birthday card with the tags. Happy PPF, Valerie
Lillianb said…
Love the card, Happy belated WOYWDW

Lilian B # 8
Hello Arnoldo and Happy PPF :D)
Your journal art is very timely. Beautiful birthday card - its definitely a gift within itself. Your photography is lovely. Enjoy your weekend, Sue
Linda Kunsman said…
It's so soothing to read your comforting little sermons here. The art is always so beautiful. Your watercolor art is wonderful. Love that birthday card- such beautiful details! And your photo with the scripture printed on is so lovely. Happy PPF!
Christine said…
Beautiful work for the challenges Arnoldo!
sirkkis said…
Toughing, gorgeous Art, Arnoldo.
Have a happy weekend 🌺
Jan/JFM said…
Love the card and the art journal page.
Wonderful art Arnoldo~
Sound thought Arnoldo and loving the card too. Wishing you a great weekend with lots of happiness, Angela xXx
Shoshi said…
More timely words, beautifully illustrated, Arnoldo. These could be made into the pages of an inspirational book. Thank you for your comment and your encouraging remarks - I am in the Lord's hands as far as my disability benefit is concerned, and I pray He will guide aright those who are making the decision about it. I am trying not to worry! Glad you liked my kitty pic this week. I experimented a bit with some teabags this afternoon but it was NOT a success, so I must think of an alternative. Phase 3 of my eco project is proving more difficult than the previous ones!

Happy belated WOYWW and God bless,
Shoshi #11
Beth Niquette said…
Beautiful work. Thank God, He is the bondage breaker!
Love your use of the sizzix die.

Diana @ Playing
https://playingwithoutlimits.wordpress.com