For the past 14 years or so I have been on a life-transforming journey that took me from isolation, self-judgement, and the ever-present “rules and standards” of perfectionism and people-pleasing. The fallout from that pursuit led me into the depths of despair, failure and secret sin. The more I tried to be perfect, the further away I was from achieving what I thought was right. I turned my back on God and tried to find my own way in attempting to feel better.
It was not until I reached out to someone I knew, who was safe, and shared my deep dark secrets, that I began to realize I could not overcome them by myself. I could not fix me! I was incapable of even knowing what I needed to do. I was scared, lonely, and certain I was so messed up that there was no hope.
But, in sharing my secret with one other person, I learned I was loved and that there was hope for me – a shame-filled “good Christian” woman who was broken inside and needed someone besides herself to step in and mercifully and graciously heal her. It was then that I read Matthew 5:3 for the umpteenth time in my life with a whole new understanding.
“Blessed [spiritually prosperous, happy, to be admired] are the poor in spirit [those devoid of spiritual arrogance, those who regard themselves as insignificant], for theirs is the kingdom of heaven [both now and forever].” MATTHEW 5:3 AMP
Blessed was always a word that I used after someone sneezed (bless you) or that I received from the pastor in the Benediction at the closing of the Sunday morning church service. But to use it to mean “spiritually prosperous, happy, to be admired” and linked to “poor in spirit” made no sense to me.
“Poor in spirit” was a phrase I had never really pondered before then. As I thought about the word Poor, a dictionary states it as meaning without, deficient or lacking. So I am without spirit, or deficient or lacking in spirit. Hmmm. So, then what does spirit mean? A dictionary gives a variety of meanings including the will, feelings, attitude, and the soul. It also specifies the Holy Spirit. So being without or lacking in will, feelings, attitude, soul or the Holy Spirit. Hmmm.
Oswald Chambers speaks of the gateway to heaven as being a person who comes to Our Lord as a “pauper in spirit” in his writing “My Upmost For His Highest”:
“The teaching of the Sermon on the Mount produces despair in the natural man — the very thing Jesus means it to do. As long as we have a self-righteous, conceited notion that we can carry out Our Lord’s teaching, God will allow us to go on until we break our ignorance over some obstacle, then we are willing to come to Him as paupers and receive from Him. “Blessed are the paupers in spirit,” that is the first principle in the Kingdom of God.” ~Oswald Chambers, The Gateway To The Kingdom
Pauper is defined as a person who is very poor and without any means of support. Thus “paupers in spirit” would be anyone who is very poor, without the support of the Holy Spirit, and unable to get their life back on track by themselves. In other words – powerless, in despair, and hopeless.
So, “Blessed are the poor in spirit” was exactly where God wanted me to be and he met me there. I had to humbly ask for help because I was unable to help myself out of the dark, sinful, secret place I was in. For me to be saved and made new, I cried out to God and He reached down from his throne and rescued me.
“A hostile world! I call to GOD, I cry to God to help me. From his palace he hears my call; my cry brings me right into his presence— a private audience!” … “But me he caught—reached all the way from sky to sea; he pulled me out Of that ocean of hate, that enemy chaos, the void in which I was drowning. They hit me when I was down, but GOD stuck by me. He stood me up on a wide-open field; I stood there saved—surprised to be loved!” Psalm 18:6, 16-19 MSG
And now I can truly be happy and spiritually prosperous as I acknowledge to God my desperate need for Him to rescue me. The result is His promise of the kingdom of heaven now and forever! That brought joy to my heart and continues to do so daily!