Two separate readings caught my attention this morning during my morning quiet time. The first came from Matthew 5 and the beginning of the sermon on the mount.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they shall be filled.” (Matthew 5:6)
As many are aware it is one of the Beatitudes, the sayings of Jesus that help to define what Kingdom Life looks like. While part of its interpretation is contingent on the entire section of the Beatitudes and even the entire sermon as a whole; its simple message is clear. Those that are truly searching for righteousness will find God and God will fill them with blessing. To be blessed by God is to be filled with the things that lead to abundant life. At times in the Bible this includes material blessings, but more often it means being empowered by God to live a life full of rich meaning. God is making a promise that those who search after righteousness as one who is hungry searches after food will not come up empty. But God will see their efforts and reward their efforts and lead them to abundant life. To those who at times find life difficult it is a word of hope. God will not abandon those who actively pursue a relationship with God.
It’s a helpful reminder especially when combined with a second reading involving the life of King Asa in 2 Chronicles. Asa is the great-grandson of King Solomon and rules over the southern kingdom of Judah. Asa begins his rule as a very good king. He removes the foreign altars and the high places and calls Judah back to covenant faithfulness to God. There was peace in the land of Judah and God was blessing the kingdom because Asa sought “the Lord our God.” When the Ethiopians attacked Judah Asa trusted in God and asked God for help and God delivered them. Asa even removed his own mother as queen mother because she had an image of Asherah. For most of Asa’s life he was a good and faithful king.
However, things went wrong in the thirty-sixth year. The King of Israel threatened to attack Judah and Asa got scared. Instead of trusting in God, Asa sent silver and gold to entice the king of Aram to make an alliance with Judah and help protect Judah from Israel. The plan worked. Aram attacked Israel. Israel pulled away from Judah. Judah was safe.
But the plan displeased the Lord and God sent the prophet Hanani to condemn Asa. Hanani even reminds Asa that Asa had trusted God when the Ethiopians attacked, why did Asa lose faith this time. And then Hanani provides some interesting commentary.
“For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the entire earth, to strengthen those whose heart is true to him.” (2 Chronicles 16:9)
Hanani is reminding King Asa that if Asa will keep his heart focused on God, God will not abandon him. God is constantly searching, looking for those whose hearts are turned toward God. And when God finds them God will strengthen them and give them what is needed for abundant life.
Although these two passages are not meant to be read together it was a powerful reminder as I happened to come across both of them this morning. Often, my most difficult times in life are when I try to do things my own way. When, instead of trusting in God, I rely on my own abilities and understandings I often fail. The majority of stress in my life comes when I am trying to solve problems on my own or believing that I need to somehow do things right so that my plans will succeed.
I need to remind myself, however, that God does not ask me to figure out how to best advance God’s purposes or God’s Kingdom. The only thing God asks of me is to seek God with all my heart. To hunger and thirst for what is right above all others things. To turn my heart toward God in all situations. And if I am desperately searching for God, God will find me. God will fill me. God will strengthen me and lead me to abundant life. Because God will always search out the righteous. Those whose hearts are turned toward God will never be abandoned. Instead, those who seek righteousness will be filled.