In October 2019, many Lebanese took to the streets in a festive manner with dancing and chanting to denounce mounting economic pressures and demand political accountability for three decades of corruption and mismanagement of public resources.
In a time when the corona virus is wreaking havoc on our healthcare and economic systems, we all need to hear good news, to be comforted and reassured. On the surface, this beatitude fits the job description of a blanket blessing. However, when we look a bit closer, Jesus is literally saying, “Happy are those who are sad”.
After nine years of war, we had hoped that the worst was behind us. However, the most severe humanitarian crisis since the beginning of the war is currently unfolding in Idlib, a province in Northwestern Syria, following efforts by the Syrian government to recapture one of the last rebel and jihadi-held strongholds.
We continue our journey through the beatitudes by reflecting on what it means to be poor in spirit.
The spiritual dimension of poverty is a humble dependence on God. It is knowing deep down that we are so spiritually poor that we have nothing to bargain with to gain God’s favor and love.
For a city that has prided itself as one of the best destinations for nightlife in the Middle East, the battlefield-like scenes broadcasted on national TV over the weekend of January 18th – 19th and January 22nd were quite the change from the usual glitz and glamour of Beirut’s party scene.
Even 2000 years after it was first taught by Jesus, the “Sermon on the Mount” is still revolutionary; it is a revolution not against the powers that be, but a revolution of the heart and mind. It represents what John Stott calls a manifesto, albeit a condensed one, for a “Christian counter-culture” that illustrates the way of life in the Kingdom of God. The same Kingdom Jesus was proclaiming in chapter 4 saying: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” v.17.
The Lebanese uprising has been raging since October 17th and there seems to be no solution in sight since the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri on October 29th.
Lebanon is a unique beast. It is a country of sharp social contrast and a fragile sectarian balance—a balance that has dominated Lebanese politics since the end of the civil war in 1990 and that has recently started to show cracks.
Every moment in life, whether a hardship or a blessing, can bring temptation. Hardship may tempt us to fear, lose hope, doubt the love of God, or be estranged from Him, while a time of blessing may tempt us to become boastful, conceited and self-sufficient.