1. DeHaan, Julie
  2. Friesen, Pamela K.
  3. Yang, Jessica

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Devotional: He Calls Them Blessed

by Jessica Yang, Bethel University 2015 Nursing Graduate

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Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:3 (NIV)


Whether being poor in spirit comes from actually living in poverty, the brokenness of our lives, or the fear we may feel from a poor prognosis, Jesus says the poor in spirit are blessed. Rather than the good life defining us as blessed, recognizing our need for Christ is the true blessing. Our hope is not rooted in our situations, but in our spirits' yearning for Christ. Reflecting on how God loves the broken, I am reminded of the upside-down nature of his kingdom.


Ben*, a patient I cared for, had recently decided to place his faith in Jesus. Although many people saw a change in Ben, no one was sure how to put it into words. Ben repeatedly apologized as he shared that he had schizophrenia and depression. He knew his mental illness was difficult for others. He apologized for the ways he was different, realizing he didn't measure up to cultural standards. However, as Ben shared, I was reminded of how much God loves him. God created Ben special and unique. In a society where Ben may not be seen as blessed, God calls him blessed. "But God chose the foolish things of this world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong" (1 Corinthians 1:27, NIV).


God's view of the poor in spirit leaves me breathless-it is simply beautiful the way that God loves us. In the society of Jesus' time, one was considered cursed by God if one was poor, ill, or born with an abnormal physical condition. People believed that either the person, or the parents, must have sinned if someone suffered from mental or physical illness (John 9:1-3). Jesus turned the tables by exemplifying God's love and emphasizing that the poor in spirit are blessed. Similarly today, people can be shunned, not approved of by others, yet God loves these individuals and calls them blessed.


It is when we are poor and broken that we see who we truly are in light of Christ and see our need for him. In this state, we can hope and trust in God. I'm grateful for God's love, which does not dismiss me from his presence because of what I lack, but rather draws me toward him. Because God loves the poor in spirit, I too want to love and serve the poor in spirit.


As nurses, when we are broken and uncertain of the words to say to our desperately hurting patients, we can rely on God, who gives us the opportunity to embrace those poor in spirit. We can shine the love of Christ to those he calls blessed.


Poor In Spirit Defined

"To be poor in spirit is to recognize your utter spiritual bankruptcy before God. Being poor in spirit is admitting that, because of your sin [not doing what God says is right], you are completely destitute spiritually and can do nothing to deliver yourself from your dire situation. Jesus is saying that, no matter your status in life, you must recognize your spiritual poverty before you can come to God in faith to receive the salvation he offers." (Got Questions Ministries, 2015)


This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life (John 3:16, The Message).


"Nurses are called to minister to the poor in spirit, that they may become rich in caring." (O'Brien, 2008, p. 15).


Got Questions Ministries. (2015). What does it mean to be poor in spirit? Retrieved from[Context Link]


O'Brien M. (2008). A Sacred Covenant: The spiritual ministry of nursing. Sudbury, MA: Jones & Bartlett. [Context Link]


* Name changed to protect identity. [Context Link]