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God’s Word for You

Luke 6:21 You are blessed

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, January 9, 2018

21 Blessed are you who hunger now,
because you will be satisfied.

In the Sermon on the Mount, this beatitude is entirely spiritual “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness” (Matthew 5:6). Some (Lenski, etc.) think that Luke has simply quoted and shortened these words, and that what we have before us should be taken spiritually as well. However, it’s best to take the text as we have it, and not read our own ideas into it. Luke quotes Jesus as saying, “Blessed are you who hunger (or, who are hungry) now.” The Lord is concerned with our physical needs as well as our spiritual needs. Paul tells us that servants of God will sometimes suffer: “In troubles, hardships and distresses, in beatings, imprisonments and riots, in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger” (2 Corinthians 6:4-5).

God will not forsake us, even when it seems impossible for life to continue. Luther says that he doesn’t see how God would ever let one of his faithful children die of starvation. “It is utterly impossible,” he says, “for God to let anyone who trusts in him die of starvation; all angels would have to come and feed him. Elijah was fed by ravens and lived for many days on a handful of meal, he and the widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17:6,15)” (LW 21:346-347). Yet I think Luther has gone too far, here. Many faithful believers have starved when they’ve been caught up in a war and have been in a city under siege, or died of starvation and other things while prisoners of war. Jeremiah says: “The children beg for bread, but no one gives it to them” (Lamentations 4:4).

But in most cases, God will provide according to his will. In Old Testament times, we are told, some laws were even set aside in the face of poverty: “Men do not despise a thief if he steals to satisfy his hunger when he is starving” (Proverbs 6:30). But if it is God’s will that a certain man’s life will end and he should be called home to heaven, and starvation is the means available, won’t God work through that means? What we know is that God invites us to ask his help all through our lives, not knowing every detail of his will, but knowing that he loves us, that he wants us to trust in him, and that there are many, many diversions that might draw our money and resources away especially in the century in which we live. The good steward will use the gifts God gives wisely. And here a more severe statement from Luther is in place: “One should live in affliction and not in pleasure according to the flesh if one would live rightly” (LW 14 p. 181, commenting on Psalm 102:9). God gives us the means; how will we use what he gives?

Blessed are you who weep now,
because you will laugh.

We weep for many reasons. Grief, loss, pain, fear—even joy in some cases, especially when joy follows grief or bottled-up fear. Those who weep have suffered, and what Jesus promises is that we who put our faith in him will have our grief overturned in heaven. We will laugh.

The laughter we’ll have in heaven won’t be derisive laughter, but it will be laughter of joy, sheer pleasure for the sake of heavenly pleasure. We will be pleased in heaven; we will be happy, and we will finally know what true happiness is.

What do you weep for today?

You are blessed if you weep for your pain.
In heaven you will have no pain.

You are blessed if you weep for one who has died.
In heaven you will have them back again.

You are blessed if you weep for a lost job.
In heaven you will labor for the Lord.

But today God will help you to search for work, to share the gospel with the people you love, and to manage your pain. The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him. David confessed: “You, O LORD, have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling, that I may walk before the LORD in the land of the living” (Psalm 116:8-9). That’s about this lifetime as well as the next. God wants us to trust in him, to turn to him, to pray to him, and to hold out our hands when we are in need. He will not let us go away empty.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

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