Now I know Jesus wasn’t a masochist, but when a childhood friend drops you like a hot potato, when she tries to hurt you and talks behind your back, when she makes your life miserable and you consider unfriending her on facebook (gasp!) when you want to move toIceland to get away, where does Jesus get the gall to say “blessed are you”?

This unfriended, discarded puddle is where I found myself after college.

Splashing and muddy, I hear Jesus murmer, Blessed are you.

What in tarnation is that supposed to mean? I reply indignant. What is blessed about this situation? Have you forgotten that blessed means in the Greek?  In case you forgot it means HAPPY.  (I get sort of snappy when I’m suffering).Blessed are you when people persecute you.

Really?

How is persecution happy?  I asked my good friend, Su, between hiccups and tears.

There is no happiness in being misunderstood. No zippy spring in my step.

Su wondered if the time hasn’t come yet. If this is a time for patience in what God is doing.  She knows waiting. We’ve walked alongside her and her family as life savings disappeared in the stock market.  She knows patience and its ploddy growth. Even patience grows slowly, like gamble oak. A centimeter every, say, ten years.

But the fruit of His Spirit is patience.

“And you might feel more peace as time moves you through this,” Su adds.

I sniffed a little, already wondering.

“Actually Su, I feel peace right now.”

That’s sort of weird. Peaceful, painful me.  That’s VERY weird as in supernaturally weird. My anxiety has fallen off like a sundress. And I’m bare, cold and still very peaceful. VERY weird.

The fruit of His Spirit is peace and joy.

I know people say joy is not a feeling. “Joy is based on reality not on happenings, like happiness.”

But Jesus said I would be happy. That’s what blessed means.

Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 

Who else got this bizarre painful happiness?

All those prophets that Jesus footnotes.  Isaiah, Hosea, Jonah.

Weren’t they the happy ones.

Then, there’s Mary, who was pregnant and unwed. And Ruth who had to propose to an older guy at night in his barn.  Sounds terrifying, mortifying, “asking for trouble” and so cheery.  They must have had all kinds of false things said about them, and all on account of God and his plans.

Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.
Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Okay, rewards. Let’s talk about that.
What kind of rewards are you taking about, Jesus?

Kingdom of heaven rewards, stuff that won’t need polishing or get moth holes.

Could you let me peek into the kind of kingdom life Hosea and Amos, Rahab and Mary are enjoying right now. Maybe a dream tonight? Maybe just a hope of what’s to come.

Faith, hope and love.

Splashing about in my suffering I wonder what kind of supernatural God could make me feel compassion for my persecutor. What kind of God could do that. In me.

My compassion child, Anita from Ecuador, draws me pictures in carefully shaded crayons on the backs of her letters. She is now a young teen and realizes I’ve been calling her a princess for the last decade.

She calls me Princess Jonalyn in her replies.

Anita sent me an installment during that time that included an embellished printing of 1 Corinthians 13:13  with pink scrolls at the corners, the verse written in nearly flawless English.

I re-read her crayoned lines.

Now abide. Faith, Hope, Love. But the greatest of these . . .

Love,

Princess Anita

Blessed.

first appeared in Breakfast Reading, where I post monthly with seven writers on what it means to follow Jesus in real life.