Saturday, May 7, 2011

Blessed Are Those Who Mourn...

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."

I don’t know about you, but I really like the word ‘blessed’ and ‘comforted’ in this second beatitude. I can bring those two concepts together and they make sense to me. But then Jesus had to go and put the word ‘mourn’ there and it becomes much more difficult for me to understand on a common sense level. I just don’t associate blessing and mourning as concepts that go together. And I certainly don’t start my day hoping to experience mourning because that’s the pathway to blessing.

Not only is sorrow, pain and mourning not an attractive alternative… but it seems to me that there’s almost this idea out there that grief and sorrow are signs of weakness. And that if you really have inner strength… you would never succumb to those moments of loss and heart ache. So this beatitude has two whammies against it from the start. Nobody really wants to chase sorrow. And there’s this misconception that giving in to sorrow is really a sign of weakness.

One of the many things I appreciate about Jesus is that He paints an authentic picture about the reality of following Him in this life. He doesn’t dress it up all nice and fancy in order to trick us into following Him. And if we begin to follow Him and we run into trouble or heartache of whatever kind… and we are tempted to grow disillusioned… we can never say that Jesus didn’t somehow try to warn us.

Because what we see Jesus saying to us here in this second ‘beatitude’ is that if we do choose to journey with Him and walk along the path that He leads us on… there will be moments of mourning… of sorrow… of sadness… and of loss. And if Jesus is right, then somehow, there is blessing to be found in the midst of those times when we face mourning and sorrow.

Jesus is making it very clear here that He will not leave us in the midst of our mourning… He will not leave us in the midst of deep loss and sorrow. But He is also making it clear here that He will not help us circumvent sorrow… he will not offer up a way for us to get around it or avoid it. So I wonder: Could it be possible… the reason God allows us to move into times of experiencing mourning is so we can open ourselves up to the NEED to be comforted in our lives? Perhaps a piece of the puzzle is that mourning leads us to the realization that we have a desperate need of help… and not just any kind of help… but a need for divine strength and divine resources.

We still need to engage with the second part of this verse... with the outcome of this beatitude. ‘Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted.’ And as we consider the comfort of God, I think we need to remember something Jesus said in the gospel of John: “My spirit will come and He is the comforter.” The presence of God is made available to us. God steps into our pain. God steps into our disappointment and grief. And while He doesn’t give us an escape route or leave a loop hole in so that we might dodge sorrow… we can know that in the midst of life… in the midst of the mess… God is there.

It reminds me of another really beautiful passage in scripture… describing the end. Or maybe I should say… the end of the beginning. Revelation 21: “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

I’ll be the first to tell you that I don’t always understand the metaphors and analogies and the complexities that is the book of Revelation. But I do think we can be reminded of something so important from these verses: God is not indifferent to our suffering. God understands our pain. He is not oblivious to it. Even then… at the end of the beginning… he will acknowledge our shed tears. They will not be ignored. He will acknowledge the suffering we underwent. He will acknowledge those times when the sense of loss was almost suffocating.

If you’ve ever mourned, if you’ve ever grieved, if you you’ve ever journeyed through sorrow… Jesus is telling us in this beatitude: Hurting people are welcome in my kingdom. And if you are walking through a season of sorrow, Jesus is opening His arms up to you and saying: Not only are you welcome here, but you will find comfort here as well...

No comments: