BLESSEDNESS IN MOURNING
Matthew, in his account of the Gospel, quotes the Lord Jesus as saying, “Blessed (happy) are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4) The word, mourn, usually evokes only thoughts of unhappiness, sadness, and grief. Therefore, one would not expect to find blessedness (happiness) in mourning. But like so many views set forth by the Lord, His statement in the second of the beatitudes is counter-cultural and seems unnatural. He explains that the “blessedness in mourning” lies in the comfort that the mourner shall receive. He also recorded the words of Jesus that express this truth, in Matthew 11:28: “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”
The beginning of the preaching of both John the Baptist and Jesus called sinners to repentance. The Apostle Paul explained that “godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation…,” (2 Corinthians 7:10a) With this being true, it is clear why there is blessedness in mourning. It produces repentance which leads to salvation. There are both comfort and rest for the mourner in salvation.
EARLY CHRISTIANS WERE JOYFUL IN SUFFERING
We are told that believers in the early church who, when being opposed and persecuted, “rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.” (Ac 5:41) Rather than letting their circumstances put them in a negative mood, they rejoiced! They found comfort and rest in those adverse circumstances because of their relationship with Christ. Would to God that we might take courage as we read of their example.
In every generation, it seems that the Lord has raised up someone or ones who hold forth the validity of this promise. For example, the Lord spoke through William Cowper, 18th century English poet and hymnodist who wrote the hymn, ‘God Moves in a Mysterious Way’ that expresses the same sentiment. In one stanza he wrote:
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust him for his grace;
Behind a frowning providence,
He hides a smiling face.
In the nineteenth century, pastor/evangelist, Charles Spurgeon, wrote: I am afraid that all the grace that I have got of my comfortable and easy times and happy hours, might almost lie on a penny. But the good that I have received from my sorrows, and pains, and griefs, is altogether incalculable …. Affliction is the best bit of furniture in my house. It is the best book in a minister’s library.
One of the most admired of the United States founding fathers was Benjamin Franklin who said: “Those things that hurt instruct.”
Even William Shakespeare recognized this sentiment in one of his quotes: “Tears water our growth.”
Several 20th-century authors expressed their seemingly heartfelt acquiescence with the sentiment that there is blessedness in mourning:
Marcel Proust, acclaimed to be one of the most influential authors of the 20th century, is credited with this observation: “Happiness is beneficial for the body, but it is grief that develops the powers of the mind.”
Dr. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, a Swiss-American psychiatrist, and author of the internationally best-selling book, On Death and Dying (1969) wrote: “The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
Dean Koontz, 20th Century Prolific Suspense novelist had this to say: “The terrible pain of loss person of a good one.”
Augustine Mandino, prolific 20th-century motivational author and success guru said, “I will welcome happiness for it enlarges my heart, yet I will endure sadness for it opens my soul. I will acknowledge rewards for they are my due, yet I will welcome obstacles for they are my challenge.”
Note: Most of the above quotes are taken from MyGriefAssist, a community service initiative provided by InvoCare.
Finally, John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church (nineteenth century) instituted what is referred to as the mourner’s bench where individuals would kneel when they desired to experience the New Birth. Some who had already experienced the New Birth would come there, seeking entire sanctification, a practice often referred to as a second blessing. Others, especially backsliders, came there confessing their sins as they sought to continue the process of sanctification. These practices acknowledge the need and therapeutic value and blessing of mourning in the human experience.
In the first of the beatitudes, Jesus explained: “Blessed (happy) are the ‘poor in spirit’ which means that we can only know real happiness when we begin with a realistic, proper understanding of who we are and how dependent we are on Him. When we realize how poor we are, it should result in godly sorrow (mourning) that produces a repentance that leads to salvation from the guilt and burden of our sin, and restores us to God’s favor where we will be comforted (called near) by Christ who alone is the fountain of real happiness. We, being deeply convicted of our sins, repent, and because of our insufficiency to render ourselves happy, turn from unbelief and rejection of the gospel to come near to and follow Christ who lovingly calls us to himself, and speaks words of pardon, peace, and life eternal, to our hearts.
Have you enjoyed this article? If so, please leave a comment below.