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Blessed are Those who Mourn
Measuring reality according to the Word of God.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)
Common sense would seem to dictate that mourning is antithetical to blessedness, that lament and sorrow are at odds with happiness and flourishing. However, if we are going to judge reality according to Jesus’ words and not our own, we must apparently conclude otherwise. The wisdom of God is not the wisdom of man.
To “mourn” means to lament or grieve, especially at sin, loss, or death. The disciples “mourned and wept” at Jesus’ death prior to the resurrection (Mk. 16:10), and Paul was afraid that he would have to mourn over those who had “sinned in the past and not repented” when he came to visit the Corinthians a second time (2 Cor. 12:21). James uses the word in the context of grief over sin: “Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom” (Js. 4:9).
Thus to mourn in the New Testament is to feel grief and sorrow, and especially so toward the grim realities of sin and death. It is to feel the awful weight of the curse bearing down on you and to be burdened with a resultant sense of sadness and anguish. In short, to mourn is to see reality as it is; to look this fallen world full in the face, unhindered by naïve illusions, and to feel the only sensible response: sadness, grief, and loss.
We might struggle to see how such a state could ever be a happy one, but it’s helpful to consider the alternative. To not mourn in a world like ours would be a far worse thing. To be stupidly content and cheery while misery and sin abound would be no blessing at all. In fact, it would reveal a heart strangely out of touch with reality, and one unprepared to look to the “Father of mercies and God of all comfort” for solace and salvation (2 Cor. 1:3).
To say this, however, is to stumble upon an awkward indictment of the modern evangelical church. Immersed as we are in the hollow sentimentalism of the world, our tendency is to view all soberness as austere and unbecoming. To talk of sin, judgment, or repentance appears to us like an unnecessary stirring of the pot. Indeed, our determined avoidance of reality is so strong that the prospect of mourning over anything, let alone over sin, feels sadly unimaginable. After all, aren’t such things bad for mental health?
Even so, let God be true though everyone a liar. Blessedness is not found by persisting in superficiality. It is found by those who mourn.
And they shall be comforted.
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