Whenever we try to face life with nothing but the strength that is ours, show us, O God, how poor it is. Then share with us thine own, down the ways of thy steady purpose. Through Jesus Christ, our Lord, Amen.
That was the prayer appointed for today in the prayer book I’m currently using. Each day, it seems, I am confronted more and more with the poorness of my strength. I may indeed accomplish a great deal, and do it well, but ultimately the things I set my hand to end up as dust and rust. And in the end, honestly, I may look at all that I have done and all I have made, and that blind honesty has to set in. It doesn’t mean a thing. My glories aren’t glorious at all. They’re nothing.
The Beatitudes are coming around again in the lectionary cycle. There in Matthew 5 Jesus finds us exactly where we are when he says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, because the reign of God is theirs.” Looking at myself, I must admit I am indeed poor in spirit. I’m helpless, hopeless, at rock bottom. And Jesus calls me blessed, because the reign of God is mine.
The reign of God—the saving acts of God through his Son, Jesus Christ—is mine. In the midst of all the rottenness and disappointment and apathy of life, there’s the crucified and resurrected Lord Jesus—for you and for me. He comes to us with salvation, promising us resurrection and blessing upon blessing on the last day. As he has been raised from the dead, so we may also rise, never to die again.
We don’t have it anywhere near together. Honestly, we don’t. And that’s exactly the kind of people the reign of God in Christ comes to. Blessed are the poor in spirit.