When you think of being "blessed", what resonates? Photos of pristine beaches or beautiful families, tagged #blessed? Riley Curry's cute little voice singing "wayyyyy up, I feel blessed" at the NBA Finals press conference? Being blessed seems correlated to popularity, wealth, ease of life. We may make fun of people who use #blessed genuinely, but in truth, we usually want some aspect of whatever makes others feel "blessed". Tonight was the last night of my summer small group, and we discussed the blessing of persecution. "Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Matt. 5:10 There were only three of us in the study tonight, but we were pretty confident that "blessing" and "persecution" don't correlate for most of us. For me, I not only struggle to see suffering as a blessing, I actively avoid it. I was ashamed to admit tonight that I had a difficult time even coming up with examples of times I have felt persecuted-- and yet Jesus says so clearly it's a blessing to suffer for righteousness. I'm so fearful of suffering, yet I have no possibility of even an ounce of persecution that those in other parts of the world face. But I'm coming to a place where what I want is to live F R E E and F EA R L E S S L Y more than I am F E A R F U L. All pain, persecution and suffering pales in comparison to the greatness to knowing Jesus and living fully into the freedom he gives. That life, which promises suffering, is richer and fuller than the life I live of fear of "what if?". And I don't know about you, but that's the blessing I want: a life that fearlessly seeks brings the kingdom of heaven to earth, that unashamedly pursues knowing and trusting God more in the dark, shadowy, uncertain places of life. Jesus is better than we can even imagine.