Do You Mourn?
“Blessed are those who mourn. For they shall be comforted.” ~ Matthew 5:4
Do you mourn? Presently? Right now? I bet you do.
There are many griefs in this life. There are many things to mourn over.
Perhaps your husband was killed by a drunk a driver and there is a gaping hole in your life, not to mention financial distress. Perhaps your wife left you for another man, and your children have been poisoned against you. Your heart has been shattered. Maybe you lost your job. Maybe you are suffering some kind of social or racial injustice. Maybe you keep having miscarriages, or are unable to have children. Perhaps you have been raped or are daily suffering at the hands of an abuser. Maybe you are alone. Perhaps you have cancer, or a mental illness, disability, the weight of caring for a disabled child or spouse for years or a lifetime.
Regardless of what your pain is, the fact is we all mourn, believers and unbelievers alike.
So what is Jesus saying here?
How could he say that if we mourn we’ll be blessed? It has been 15 years since your wife left and you still have no comfort about that. Your children won’t speak to you, how can you find comfort in that? You suffer chronic pain and there is no easing it, sleep comes only with medication, where is the blessing and the comfort that Jesus speaks of?
In the Old Testament God often calls his people to repent in sackcloth and ashes. Sackcloth and ashes were symbols of grief and mourning. When someone lost a spouse or a child they would put on sackcloth and cover themselves in ashes. So what Jesus is saying is that when we weep within our heart of hearts over our sins, if we grieve like a mother who lost her child, we’ll be comforted. Do we mourn our personal sin? Or do we cover it up? Do we try to do a nice thing to make up for it, or do we grieve that we have sinned against a holy God? Do we mourn over our collective sin as a society? Do we mourn the unborn children being sacrificed on the alter of choice? Or do we look away? Do we grieve over sin as much as we do over its effects?
As Christians there is no time we are not mourning over sin and its effect.
But there’s good news in our mourning. Jesus promises that when we mourn, we will be comforted. What he is saying is that he will always be comforting us.
My Reformed friends will be familiar with the Heidelberg Catechism, which, summarizing the gospel, teaches us in the first question and answer:
Q. What is your only comfort in life and death?
A. That I am not my own, but belong with body and soul, both in life and in death, to my faithful Saviour Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from all the power of the devil. He also preserves me in such a way that without the will of my heavenly Father not a hair can fall from my head; indeed, all things must work together for my salvation. Therefore, by his Holy Spirit he also assures me of eternal life and makes me heartily willing and ready from now on to live for him.
We find our comfort in Jesus.
He has purchased us with his blood, and what that means is that we are forgiven of all our sins and set free from its enslaving power! All this sin we mourn over, he tells us that we are forgiven. And that is a great comfort. Not only are we forgiven, but we know that God is sovereign in all things, so that when we mourn the effect of sin – sickness and death – we can find comfort knowing that there is nothing in all creation which Jesus is not in control of. Our Lord has also left us His Spirit. That life giving Spirit which raised Jesus from the dead lives within us, renewing us, sanctifying us, increasing our love, helping us to grow in image of Christ.
All of this to say, that while we groan under the effects of the fall, and we put on sackloth and ashes and mourn that we have grieved a holy God, the present reality of the blessing of the Kingdom of Christ is that there is no time when He is not near to us, embracing us, and comforting us as we mourn. Jesus will put off our sackcloth, he will wipe our tears, he will wash the ashes away with his blood and clothe us with joy and gladness.
Jesus truly is our comfort in time of mourning.