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Those Who Mourn

Blessed are those who mourn,

for they will be comforted.

Matthew 5:4

I’m not a big fan of funerals. In fact, I don’t know anyone who is. As much as we proclaim them to be a celebration of life, or a remembrance service, it seems everyone knows we are just trying to find a nicer way to say funeral.

I also don’t know anyone who loves giving bad news to people. We don’t envy the doctor who has to give the cancer diagnosis or the police officer who has to knock on the door with a notification for a family.

When something goes wrong in our lives or the lives of those we love, our first instinct is often to try and fix things. While many of us can acknowledge sadness as an appropriate response in a variety of situations, we want to move through the sad feelings as quickly as possible. Why? Because those sad feelings make us uncomfortable. Because too often the situations where sadness and grief are appropriate are beyond our ability to fix.

And yet Jesus tells us in the second beatitude, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4) Not exactly the first words we think to say to the person who just lost a loved one, watched a dream die, or received news which caused their world to feel like it was spinning out of control. So what in the world was Jesus talking about when he said those who mourn are blessed?

To understand what Jesus is trying to say it is first important to understand the reason for all of the tragedies in our world. It’s simple really. Sin. Before sin entered the world, humanity dwelled on earth with God physically walking in our midst. (Genesis 3:8) Before sin entered the world, there were no consequences of sin to be felt. It was only after Adam and Eve sinned humanity we first see pain and sorrow enter the world. (Genesis 3:16-19) Only one human since then has avoided sin, Jesus. But even Jesus was effected by the consequences of sin as he lived on earth. He wept, we was tired, we was hungry, we was betrayed, he was tortured, and he was killed. This fallen world did its very best to lure even the Son of God into its sinful ways.

Understanding this helps us to understand that while yes, Jesus was talking to those who are mourning some loss in their life and the comfort the Holy Spirit provides in those times, that is only a small part of the story. A much bigger part of the story here are those who truly mourn the sin in their lives and its resulting offense against our holy creator. It’s speaking to those who are tired not just of the consequences of sin, but the actual sin itself and how it seems to keep happening again and again in our lives.

We truly to do have to learn most things through repetition, don’t we? I’m reminded of a visit to my parents place by my sister and her two oldest children a few years ago. The oldest would have been 5 years old at the time and she has always been someone who wants to be in the mix with whatever is happening. On this particular visit, she was determined to ride this scooter thing around as much as she could manage because it was something new and it was something meant for her younger sister to enjoy. The problem, my parent’s house wasn’t big enough for both her and the scooter to be in the same room as other people. Particularly the kitchen. My dad asked her to stay out of the kitchen with it, and she did for a while. But then a new voice was added and she scooted in to be sure she wasn’t missing out on anything new.

My dad pulled her back out and scolded her. Afterwards, my mom reminded him that she was five and would likely need the instruction repeated several times before it was second nature. That’s part of being five. When my dad asked her how many times he would be expected to repeat an instruction, my mom, the long time elementary school teacher, told him that teachers who work with kindergarten students expect to repeat an expectation at least 20 times before it becomes second nature for a student to comply. Everything from raising your hand before you talk, to walking in a straight line in the hall, to remembering to put on a hat and gloves to play outside in the winter months has to be taught to kindergarten students.

So often we are forget about this same truth when it comes to overcoming sin in our lives. It’s a process. It takes time. We want it to be instant. We want to not find ourselves messing up in the same ways over and over again. And we beat ourselves up when we figure we should have already figured out some part of life and perfected it. Maybe we lost our temper again. Maybe we gossiped again. Maybe we crossed a line with a boyfriend or girlfriend again. Maybe we stuck that trinket or change laying around in our pocket again. Maybe we told a small lie to make ourselves look better again.

It is the grief and frustration we feel when coming face to face with just how deep this tendency is in our lives this beatitude is talking about. It is realizing that if we could just get our proverbial act together, we would not be contributing the fallen nature of this world. If we could just stop sinning, we would be fully doing our part towards restoring the world back to a place which doesn’t know the painful consequences of sin.

The good news in all of this, the comfort which is provided to those who mourn, is God’s grace and forgiveness. It is realizing that, because of Jesus death on the cross, all of our sins are pardoned. As we mourn sin, the only way out to fully embrace what free gift of salvation God has given us and this is an outcome not to be regretted but celebrated. Ultimately, those who mourn over their sin find the heart of God and an intimate fellowship with God is the very foundation of happiness.

Follow Up:

- Someone who truly mourned their sin and became known as a man after God’s own heart was King David. You can read his story in 2 Samuel 11 & 12. Additionally, many of the Psalms were written by King David including many which repent of his sin. If you are looking for a kid-friendly way to tell this story, consider the VeggieTales episode: King George and the Ducky

- What sin in your life do you feel like you are always repeating? How can you get help to break the cycle?

- As I was working on this post, I happened to hear the song “Closer to Love” and it struck me how much it applies. What other songs have you heard lately which remind you to draw closer to God’s love in real and authentic ways?


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