Those Who Mourn?
“Those Who Mourn?”
Last week, as we continued our look into the Beatitudes... we tackled Jesus' words, “blessed are the poor in spirit.” Which is a little difficult to say the least… because, fact is, most of us are not really poor (none of us are desperately poor) and we have real doubts about whether we qualify as poor in spirit - at times. And today, Jesus' words aren’t a whole lot better... "Blessed are those who mourn.” We can all relate to grief, can’t we? We're just not so sure about that whole "blessed" part of mourning.
Of course, when we think of mourning, we think of death, don’t we? But there are all kinds of losses that cause us to grieve.
On the more frivolous side of loss, when our favorite restaurant goes out of business, we grieve. I don’t know about you, but I grieved when Coca-Cola stopped offering the little 6.5 ounce bottles in vending machines. I’m sure some of us grieve the loss of our youth… We wish we still had the hair we had when we were teenagers.
Sometimes when you go back to your hometown, the place you grew up, you realize the neighborhood has changed. The house you were reared has been torn down, or it’s run down… and you mourn. You go back to your alma mater, your high school or college, the buildings are still there… But the people… Faces… are different. It’s just not the same place, is it? We mourn the loss of relationships. Friends go in different directions… our careers, our lifestyles... distance… all join together to push us apart.
Everything changes, and change represents loss… Loss causes grief… And grief is an unavoidable part of life.
You may find yourself reading the obituaries every day… In fact, that’s about the only rational reason I can think of to take the local paper. You may have noticed more and more people about your age, maybe some of your friends… People you know… And it hits you that someday, it will be you. There’s morning, for others no doubt… But in a very real sense we also mourn for ourselves.
But there are other reasons we mourn, too. Because, even the happiest moments of life come with at least a measure of grief built in! Weddings, graduations, selling a beloved home, relocating because of a career advancement... They’re all happy times of celebration! They're good things… welcomed things. But even the joyful, happy occasions of life bring change... and even change for the better can cause us to mourn.
So again we can all relate… We all know what it means to mourn. And today we hear Jesus say, “blessed are those who mourn.“ Blessed are those who experience deep, heartfelt loss.
Of course, to say, “blessed are those who mourn” naturally implies that there are those who don’t mourn.
It is possible, no matter how foreign it may seem to us, to be so self-centered, so focused on ones self… So unfeeling… that you really don’t grieve at all. It’s kinda like the person who, rather than feeling loss when a loved one dies, only thinks about the inheritance, and who’s going to get a good China… trust me it happens every day! There are those who, rather than seeing devastation in a natural disaster, only see the money that could possibly be made off the tragedy. There are simply people who do not mourn.
That’s why Jesus says, you’re blessed, if you’re sensitive enough to care. You’re fortunate, if you’ve loved deeply enough to truly hurt. Because in reality, mourning, grieving, is a part of loving. We only hurt deeply when we’ve loved deeply.
Jesus himself mourned... After the death of Lazarus, when Jesus was summoned to come... we’re told, “Jesus wept!” (John 11)
You know, it may just be that Jesus was speaking of those who have an empathetic or even sympathetic spirit that gifts them with the ability to grieve. If so, this singular beatitude could be understood or interpreted as saying: “those who are deeply concerned, those who are moved to tears, are God's people, for they’ll see their ideals become reality.” Blessed are those who are deeply concerned.
God's word speaks of having a deep concern for the world… The loss, and the sin, and the fallenness that we see all around us.
In Matthew 23:37, Jesus cries out, “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often have I desired to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!“
In other words, Jesus cried over the lost-ness of the city, and there are times when following Christ… Being a child of God, and a resident of the kingdom of God, should make us weep, too. It should make us mourn for the condition of the world.
List of statistics that should cause us to mourn: every single day in our country…
27 children die from poverty. 95 children die from low birth weight. 43 children are killed or injured by guns. 1637 youth drop out of school. 1081 children are abused or neglected. 89 Americans died of aids. Today, and everyday, over 1600 lives are ended by abortion (that’s over 600,000 every. Single. Year.)
So we have plenty to mourn... There's no shortage of things that should deeply concern us.
But the "blessing" doesn't come by simply bemoaning the condition of our world... nor in sitting around waiting for our tears to dry. The greater blessing... the comfort that's promised by Christ... comes from the knowledge that Christ has called us to be part of the solution.
It's not a passive blessing... It's knowing the complete and inexpressible truth... That no matter what this world throws at us, that God "works all things for the good of those who love him, and are called according to his purpose."
We are blessed, and find comfort, as God turns our sorrow into joy! It may not happen suddenly... It may take some time. But hold on, for as Psalm 30:5 reminds us, "weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes in the morning!"