“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Jesus’ words never fail to have a somewhat bizarre tinge to them. I can’t help but wonder what his newly acquired disciples thought as they listened to His earliest sermon recorded in Matthew. The concept is countercultural today, but surely it must have been just as unlikely a claim back then.
Honestly, this “beatitude” is one I think I understand. As I sat here thinking about what I might say, I was reminded of a little girl on a playground. She was surrounded by her playmates who were trying to get her to go into the schoolhouse to seek the help of a teacher in cleaning and bandaging the wounds causing blood to flow from her knees. “No,” she said stubbornly. She wasn’t a baby. She didn’t need help. Seriously! She was just fine. Eventually her playmates gave up and brought the help to her.
She could not be comforted because she refused to mourn.
Mourning was too dangerous. It hurt too much. It would tell the people around her how very vulnerable her heart was. It was better to pretend life didn’t hurt. It was better to grin and bear it. Surely smiling would help even if she did not feel like it. That’s what brave people did, right?
About five years ago that little girl, who may or may not obviously be me, decided to embrace all of life and quit running from negative emotion. It was a tremendously fruitful decision because it was only in mourning that she could be comforted. It was only in acknowledging the brokenness of life and the depth of the pain it created in her soul when she could be comforted by her Savior.
One of the things I have noticed in life is that there is so much to mourn over. As I have followed Him in confession and repentance, I have been surprised by some of the things that inspire mourning. For example, I often mourn when I am faced with my own powerlessness. Let me put that another way, sometimes I mourn that I am not God. I personally think that is weird and sounds nearly sinful, but I have very much genuinely done it and brought that grief to my Savior.
He never laughs at my pain. It is one of the reasons He has become my closest friend. People laughed at me while I experienced the most intense pain I have ever experienced on earth. It has taken decades after that moment to reopen my heart to experiencing pain with people and with God. It took long enough in and of itself for me to admit that I had pain in the first place. “Me? What? Hurt? No, I’m fine!”
He comforts me better than anyone else. I used to run to the phone first, but I have learned running to the phone is quite ineffective. The throne is a much better source of comfort.
Don’t get me wrong. I love to mourn with those who mourn. In fact, I think it is one of the greatest honors I have ever experienced. People easily invite other people into their joy or victory. It is not hard to be invited to a party. But it takes a much deeper level of trust when they invite me into their greatest pain and disappointment. I am never more honored than when I am privileged by mourning with those who mourn. When I am privileged with loving the most broken.
It is fun to rejoice, but it is necessary to mourn. Without first recognizing our brokenness and mourning over our sin, how can we ever rejoice over having received a Savior? Without first recognizing the brokenness of the world, can we really rejoice over the goodness of God? Doesn’t one necessarily precede the other?
The world is so broken. As I look around me, I see God’s goodness but only in how He loves and cares for what is broken. I cannot see it in what is unbroken because everything which surrounds me is broken – even the most beautiful sunrise. I see His goodness in how He redeems and transforms us and in the hope that there will be a perfect tomorrow someday.
So I rejoice as I mourn because I know I will soon be comforted. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon…
Weeping may remain for a night, but joy comes in the morning!