by LeeAndra Fouts

During this week’s staff meeting, Pastor Janice led us through a devotional time highlighting the Sermon on the Plain featured in Luke 6:27-36. This is the famous “turn the other cheek” passage but the words just before that part captured my attention this time – “bless those who curse you.”

The passage in the NKJV reads, “But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you. To him who strikes you on the one cheek, offer the other also. And from him who takes away your cloak, do not withhold your tunic either… But if you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them… But love your enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High. For He is kind to the unthankful and evil. Therefore be merciful, just as your Father also is merciful.”

As we read the passage several times, I thought over and over again about the word “bless.” What does that mean exactly? To me, it is a positive action, a purposeful acting out of a plan, that requires more from me than simply being good or loving everyone. It is one thing to stay still and silent while someone’s curses, literal or figurative, are raining down upon you but it is quite another to speak into the situation with a blessing and good word for that person.

I began to visualize something in my mind and jotted it down in my notes before I forgot. I’ve shared the picture with you (despite its elementary-school level of artistry!) in hopes that it may help you, too, the next time you hear this passage or find yourself knee-deep in someone else’s negative words and bad attitude. I always find it so much easier to remember something when I can see it in my mind.

When we face any type of storm in Life, it’s our natural instinct to protect ourselves from it, to grab a poncho or umbrella or hunker down in a safe space, and wait for it to pass. What if we didn’t step out of the rain, though, but into it? What if we allowed ourselves to feel the harsh cold rain on our skin knowing that all storms pass soon enough? What if we decided to embrace the storm because we saw the positive effects it could have in the middle of the terrible cause that it is? What if we decided to open ourselves up to the possibility that a temporary shake-up might cause a permanent steadfastness to grow within us?

I looked up the Hebrew word for “bless” after our meeting and discovered the Hebrew word is “barah” which means “to kneel.” Yes, exactly – to bless someone who curses you is to kneel down, to give up your power and become vulnerable to theirs, in the midst of their storm of lies and say, “I still believe you are a good person.  I still believe something good will come from this. I still believe in love and truth and hope.”

From the outside, blessing someone who curses you may seem weak or stupid. People may wonder if you have lost your mind. In a way you have --- leading with your heart, instead of your head, is exactly what Jesus did, and He was the strongest Man who ever lived. Blessing those who curse you is understanding the wisdom in pausing, reflecting, and praying as you seek to understand others and how God may use this situation for good. We could all use a few moments in our chaotic lives to pause and reflect and pray… especially in the midst of a storm.