The Blessedness of Need

At midnight on Sunday, January 23, 2011, I stood at the American Airlines gate anxiously awaiting the return of my wife, Pat from Kingston, Jamaica. She, along with 9 other seminary students from the Samuel DeWitt Proctor School of Theology at Virginia Union University, had just spent a week teaching and training clergy and laypersons who are a part of the 16th Episcopal District of the African Methodist Episcopal Church.
As we talked, both while she was away and after she returned, there was one thing that stood out above all else about the persons who attended the sessions. They were excited, enthusiastic and completely committed to the training, particularly the youth and young people. Here she was among a people who were for the most part living either very near the poverty line or in poverty. Most of them, if not all of them did not have the $3.00 necessary to pay for their lunches while attending the week-long seminar so the teachers paid for them out of their pockets. Two young ladies in their early 20’s had to leave home in the dark, early morning hours in order to travel for 3 hours, changing from one carrier to another 3 times in order to arrive at the seminar sight for the first session which began each morning at 8:00 a.m. And according to Pat, they never missed a session and they were always on time.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus begins his teaching with a series of nine beatitudes. The fourth beatitude in that series declares, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled”. (Matthew 5:6-NIV). As I listened to Pat talk about her experience, I found myself thinking those who have so little tend to take God more seriously than those who appear to have so much. I have already indicated that most of those attending the seminar are living very near or in poverty. But they were driven, even compelled by a hunger and thirst that had to do with more than food and/or water. They were possessed by a passion to know God. They were driven by the desire to be connected with the Almighty. They had what someone called an irresistible urge for a deeper and more meaningful relationship with the God who is the Creator, the Sustainer and the Keeper of all life. And because of this hunger and thirst, they moved with an unrelenting passion to be present at this seminar where their souls could be fed, where the thirst of their spirits could be quenched, and where they could find deeper meaning and greater abundance in their lives.

It is rather strange to think that there is something blessed about hunger and thirst. However, it is not so such the hunger and thirst that is blessed; it is simply that hunger and thirst drive us to have our need fulfilled. Maybe this is one of the lessons we can learn from losing the things we think are important and necessary in our lives but in reality may not be. In his book, Searching for God in Godforsaken Times and Places, Hubert G. Locke writes, “Groping for God is what we find we must do, after we have discovered that nothing else in this world is worth the effort”. While we who have much spend much of our time trying to get more, maybe it is in the loss of some of what we have that we discover what those who have so little seem to already know: that our real longing and our real yearning is for God.




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