catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 11, Num 11 :: 2012.05.25 — 2012.06.07


Lucky song

One Monday evening a couple years back, Brian came home from the day at work he’d been expecting for months: he learned for certain that he would no longer have a job after June.  He would, indeed, be laid off for the second time in only ten months.  I played a song for him, “Words to Build a Life On” by Michael Crawford and his Secret Siblings, not to force a grin-and-bear-it attitude in him or, even, slap a “God will make a way!” label on this season in our lives.  What I was hoping is that he’d hear the message again and that it would comfort and encourage him:

Blessed when you’re heartbroke
Blessed when you’re fired
Blessed when you’re choked up
Blessed when you’re tired

At the time I didn’t know if he’d hear the line or not.  I kept on dicing tomatoes for salad.  
I was also hoping he’d remember the time we heard Eugene Peterson speak at a symposium. As part of his talk, Peterson shared a story about trying to negotiate with the publishers on his translation of the Sermon on the Mount; I kind of wished we’d been able to hear more of his voice in the paraphrase of Matthew 5.

He said that when he studied the etymology of the repeated benediction, “Blessed are they…,” he felt the best word choice would be “lucky.”  He told us that his years of pastoring congregations were formative in his approach to working out The Message and that one particular member of his congregation came to mind as he was working on the Sermon on the Mount.  She was an artist who told him while he was teaching a series on David, having never learned the Bible even as a well-read woman, “I feel so lucky.  I never heard that story before.”  Every Sunday after that, the same thing: “I feel so lucky.  I never heard that story before.”

However, after submitting the particular part of the manuscript, Peterson’s editor called him up and said “You can’t use that word. A whole subculture thinks that ‘lucky’ is a code word for ‘Lucifer.’” During the conference, the moderator asked Pastor Peterson, “When we read that portion in The Message, we could read that as ‘lucky?’”

With an almost devilish grin, he responded, “Yes. You could.”

Ever since, Brian and I read the Sermon on the Mount as the, “Lucky are theys,” and I was hoping my husband would hear it again through the song.

Later, when we were at small group, he confessed to the group what I’d hoped he’d heard in the song: “Lucky when you’re fired.”

Lucky because of some twisted, pietistic thinking that whatever doesn’t kill you will make you stronger?


Lucky because Christ has redeemed us to be his blessed children who share in his suffering for the hope of future glory; who share in the sufferings of this world as one of a broken people, longing for wholeness and redemption; who share in the suffering of a broke and anxious city, fearing for unknown job security.

Lucky to know the peace and to pass the peace of Christ around indiscriminately to our neighbors and family, and to our own fearful selves.

Lucky to be reminded in the words of a song.

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