How to be Supremely Happy – Part 1
“Blessed are the poor in spirit…” (Matthew 5 : 3)
There is a wrong ‘teaching’ or ‘spirituality’ that exists in the minds of some Christians, that being poor is more ‘spiritual’ than being rich. (There is an equally incorrect idea that being wealthy is principle evidence of godliness…for discussion another time!)
However, ‘poor in spirit’ comes from the Greek New Testament word ‘ptochos‘ which means ‘…to be as poor or as starving hungry as a beggar.’ In other words, what Jesus was teaching was,
‘…you will be supremely happy and spiritually prosperous if you have completely lost your independence and realised your complete dependence on God as your source of supply.’
Is it fair to say, that generally we go about our everyday lives with the presumption that we are somehow in control of them. However, it has been said, ‘…there is not one of us whose lives cannot be totally devastated by a single phone call.’
I was at work a few days ago, when a colleague had a phone call say whilst on tour, his teenage daughter had been in a serious car crash. Within minutes he had left the workplace and was booking a flight to visit her in the city where the accident occurred.
Because of an unusual and highly surprising turn of events, after over a decade, I suddenly found myself reentering the teaching profession, and living in sunny Caerphilly, where it never rains. I still wake up some mornings and wonder how, why, when did that happen?
How about a sudden health crisis? Or a sudden bereavement? Or the words, “I don’t love you anymore”? Or ‘I’m pregnant”? Or “I’m happy to inform you…” or “I’m sorry to inform you…”
And as we experience these life-shattering events, how can they possibly be things which lead us to being ‘supremely happy…’
After many months of adjusting to the trauma of our family’s sudden but overwhelming change in fortunes, I slowly started to understand that God was trying to teach me that my life and circumstances were totally in God’s hands. I have no more control over the major milestones in my life, than I do over the weather. ‘Many are the plans of a man’s heart, but God determines his steps.’ (Proverbs 19 : 21)
Strange as it may seem, this was incredibly liberating. Paul said, ‘…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. (Phil 4 : 11 – 12)
This does not mean we become fatalistic. We can, and should, still plan, and budget, and organise, and dream… but an incredible freedom and joy is available for those who have been set free and learned the secret of contentment, “I was never in charge of my life…” and have become poor in spirit.