Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. by Mason Parva
March 17th, 2015 | John Chandler
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
– Matthew 5:4
After Jesus returned from the peril of the wilderness, He began announcing the nearness of the Kingdom of Heaven. Around the corner lay a new order of the universe in which the first would be last and the last first. The rule by the lofty, powerful, and proud would come to an end and one by the lowly, poor, and weak would begin. Through this new order, those who have gained would lose and those who have lost would gain. Within this proclamation of an all-encompassing rearrangement of human existence, Jesus promises that the mourning ones will be comforted.
Though we often experience seasons of loss, we seldom respond through authentic mourning. To be fair, no one really wants to mourn. There is nothing sexy about mourning. It takes time, is emotionally draining, and requires we forsake a significant portion of our dignity. It forces us to be honest and at times to feel awkward. It takes us places we’d rather not go despite knowing they’re ones we need to go. It demands the most of us and the best of us. We’d prefer to lie to ourselves about our pain, or table it for later. We’d rather be numb automata than victims. We’d sooner choose denial and absolute delusion than acceptance, confusion, despair, and uncertainty. We’d rather believe we are still in control than admit through mourning that we have little. We hold within us a certain amount of fear, cowardice, pride, and dishonesty that often restrain us from ever truly mourning.
Jesus teaches about a Kingdom in which our typical responses to pain are neither appropriate nor sufficient for our healing. In this new Kingdom, mourning is the only sensible response to pain. By Jesus we have become new creations, claiming new identities marked by authenticity, humility, boldness, and love. In this new Kingdom, mourning is the only sensible response to pain. It is the only pain response we give while clinging to our new-creation identities.
Jesus explicitly promises that the mourning ones will be comforted. In Matthew 5, the Greek word meaning to comfort often means to summon, to address, to call to one’s side, to speak to one, encourage one, and strengthen one by way of consolation. Jesus’s promise then could be interpreted as “Blessed are those who mourn for they will be addressed and will not be forgotten,” or “for they will be summoned to the Father’s side.” Jesus assures us the mourning ones will not be ignored; instead they will be intentionally addressed with words of power, words that will encourage, strengthen, and heal. They will be summoned to the side of God, invited to participate in redemptive conversations. This was the experience of Job, who, upon falling into a state of utter and honest despair, stumbled into the most direct encounter with Yahweh in all of human history. Through mourning, Job received an invitation to a dialogue with the Divine, a dialogue which became his doorway to growth, change, and newness of life. According to Jesus, mourning is the path that leads to genuine healing.
If we seek the recovery God brings we must be willing to follow the path He intended. Mourning is not merely a suggestion for us to consider but an essential posture, inseparable from the call of discipleship to Jesus. It is the way we were always meant to take in the face of confounding and staggering loss and we cannot any longer forsake it. We must be honest about our pain and have the strength to feel it. We must be willing to sacrifice our dignity for the sake of experiencing growth. We must be humble and recognize we are not and cannot be in control of the world we live in. We must stop denying our pain and instead begin accepting God as our Healer. We must be bold and unafraid to admit we are victims, wounded by our afflictions yet hopeful for redemption.