Reading: Luke 6:20-31
Then he looked up at his disciples and said:
“Blessed are you who are poor, for the kingdom of God belongs to you.
“Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied.
“Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.
“Blessed are you when people hate you, and when they exclude you and insult you and reject you as evil on account of the Son of Man! Rejoice in that day, and jump for joy, because your reward is great in heaven. For their ancestors did the same things to the prophets.
“But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your comfort already.
“Woe to you who are well satisfied with food now, for you will be hungry.
“Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.
“Woe to you when all people speak well of you, for their ancestors did the same things to the false prophets.
“But I say to you who are listening: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. To the person who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other as well, and from the person who takes away your coat, do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who asks you, and do not ask for your possessions back from the person who takes them away. Treat others in the same way that you would want them to treat you.
In the world of obituaries, there is one that I’ve read that stands out above all the rest. In fact, I have that obituary memorized, since it is only two words long. Found in the Daily Item some years ago, I read these words: “Geno died.” It made me laugh right out loud. The picture in my mind’s eye of how it had been planned was crystal clear.
Eugene something-or-other had spent a good many years reading people’s obituaries, and marveling at how many strange details were included in the paragraphs that summed up a life. He was a simple man. He knew that if people knew him, they’d want to know that he died, and if they didn’t know him, they probably wouldn’t care about his obituary. So he told his family his very specific plan. “When I go, don’t get fussy with my obituary. Just put ‘Geno died.’ Might make somebody laugh, and if it doesn’t….what do I care? I’ll be gone. But seriously. Don’t make it fancy. It’s not worth the time and energy.”
And then I could imagine Geno’s kids telling the story of that conversation to the funeral director. They’re in the office laughing and crying at the same time.
“Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.”
I think Geno took that verse to heart. He knew there would be sadness and he wanted to give his family a hearty laugh. And the relationship between laughing and crying is a lot like a horseshoe magnet with both ends being actually pretty close. Sometimes you are crying and start to laugh, or laughing and you’re suddenly crying, but your face didn’t have to change much to go from one to the other. Blessed are you who weep, for you will laugh.
God knows that with a broken heart comes weeping. Jesus reminded us that even in the midst of hard things, good things will come. Hope will win over despair. Good will win over evil. Weeping will give way to laughing. Joy will return.
If you are going through a hard thing today, hang in there. Blessed are you who weep, for you will laugh. If you are dealing with the worst things that life has to dish out, blessed are you. God does God’s best work with situations that appear to be hopeless. If your past is full of awful mistakes that you have to deal with in the present and the future is uncertain and frightening, blessed are you. God is alive and on the move and working in your life.
You are enough.
You are blessed.
Blessed are you.
Gracious and loving God, when life gets overwhelming, we don’t always feel blessed. Help us to remember your words, so that we can see the work you’re doing in our midst. Help us remember that even if we are weeping, we will laugh again.