Beatitude 2: What Mourning Is Comforted
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. (Matthew 5:4)
As shown in the previous post each beatitude is a paradox that needs to be interpreted. Let us see how to interpret this beatitude.
Mourning means to feel or express grief or sorrow. It describes both the attitude and feeling experiences for a loss, often for the death of a loved one, as well as the expression of such a feeling. However, there could be different reasons for mourning.
In addition, depending on culture, personality and the reason for morning we can have very different expressions of mourning.
However, because of the context and Jesus’ focus on the spiritual rather than the physical, I will address only the internal attitudes or feeling. Further, I will use grief and mourning as synonyms.
This beatitude needs some explanation because, first, there is no blessing in mourning. In fact, mourning is the evidence that we do not feel blessed, but sad.
Further, there is no comfort in mourning. Expressing our negative feelings may help us to release some of the discomforts, but that is far from producing comfort. Actually, continually expressing grief keeps our focus on the source of our mourning and reinforces its negative effects.
Psychologists Have Worked on Grief
In her book, On Grief and Grieving, Elizabeth Kübler-Ross introduced the “five stages of grieving theory” and concluded, “The reality is that you will grieve forever.” This does not seem very comforting.
Other authors have criticized both her theory and conclusion. For example, Ruth Davis Konigsberg in her book, The Truth About Grief: The Myth of Its Five Stages (link), comes to the different conclusion: “Loss is forever, but acute grief is not.” This is more positive but does not yet come close to a Beatitude (Matthew 5:4).
To resolve the seeming conflict of Matthew 5:4 with these theories, I will consider two aspects of mourning:
- The possible causes or sources of mourning and their impact.
- The causes and expressions of mourning in Jesus’ life.
I will use other Scriptures to determine how they relate to this verse. This should help us to understand what Jesus meant with this beatitude.
Sources of Mourning
Mourning or grief is the result of a perceived loss. The losses that will produce mourning can be:
- Grief for the loss of someone we care for like a spouse, family member or friend.
- Grief for the loss of something we value, like a job, business or property
- Sorrow or regret for something we have done that has produced a serious loss, Generally but not always, this relates to our sins.
- Sorrow for something others have done that have produced a serious loss. Generally. but not always, this involves the sins of others.
Psychologists have done some work to understand and help people who are going through the feeling of grief. However, even the most popular theory of the 5 stages of mourning, has been criticized. The truth is that the impact of the help provided by therapy is questioned and the best treatment is found to be the natural passage of time. This is not too comforting, it’s only a coping and reduction of its intensity.
It is clear that there is no blessing in mourning. Rather, by it, we can open up to a spirit of grief, despair, bitterness, depression and experience many other complications.
Mourning for the Loss of a Dear One
Coping with the loss of a loved one is much easier when we are believers. We may feel the loss, but we know that our loss is temporary.
Jesus’ resurrection shows that life does not end with physical death. As Jesus, we shall be resurrected and in the end, death shall be swallowed up in victory. (1 Corinthians 15:51-56).
This is certainly a most comforting thought that gives us strength to go on rather than despair and fear. However, this blessing does not come from mourning but from faith, believing in Jesus’ resurrection and our future one.
In a number of occasions, we see how Jesus responded to death.
No record shows that He mourned for the death of anybody. What moved Him was strong compassion for those who remained (Luke 12:7-16, Mark 5:22-24, 35-43). For this reason, He repeatedly intervened and brought the dead back to life. He knew that their souls had not died and proved it by bringing them back.
In the case of Lazarus, however, Jesus went further and used the event to teach on our life after physical death (John 11:22-17, 32-45)
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26)
Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead man was lying. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.” Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth!” (John 11:41-43)
Mourning for Something We Value
Here, our prayers make a difference. However, they should be based on God’s promises and mixed with our faith. We may start in despair for the loss, but as we come to God we must go beyond our situation and see His ability and willingness to deliver us. As we see in our heart His deliverance coming, we move from despair to confidence. Then, when the victory comes, we are comforted and rejoice.
“When the Lord brought back the captivity of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue was singing. Then they said among the nations, “the Lord has done great things for them.” The Lord has done great things for us, and we are glad. Bring back our captivity, O Lord, as the streams in the South. Those who sow in tears, shall read in joy. He who continually goes forth whipping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.” (Psalm 126:1-6)
The comfort comes from our faith in God’s promises.
Mourning for Our Sins
Given the spiritual emphasis of His sermon, I believe that the mourning Jesus referred to in the beatitude is more related to our sins and to the sins of others.
Mourning for our sins shows that we realize the great impact that our sins have on our life. Sins result in a death sentence. They separate us from God forever unless we repent and believe in Jesus’ death in our place.
We all have been in that place for “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23),
However, not all types of mourning for our sins are enough to bring us comfort.
2 Corinthians 7:10 says, “for godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.”
Godly sorrow is not self-pity or condemnation but a realization of the loss that our sins have produced in our life based on the Word of God and God’s promises. Believing in God’s willingness to forgive us makes us want to change. That change is repentance. Repentance is what really brings the blessings.
Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call.” (Acts 2:37-39)
The Holy Spirit is the source of our comfort.
And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever. Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. (KJV – John 14:16-17)
How could Jesus mourn for His sins, if He was without sin?
Actually, He did just that in Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46). He was not troubled by the physical ordeal that was coming. He was ready for that and went willingly. He knew that the sins of the world were going to be poured upon Him (1 Peter 2:21-24). He knew that it would temporarily separate Him from the Father. Because He had always been in communion with the Father, that was the greater loss that anyone had ever suffered.
For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Many others have suffered terrible physical torture and death, but no one ever suffered the spiritual torment Jesus experienced when all the sins of the world were poured upon Him. Yet, He willingly accepted that in our place, knowing that His righteousness was greater than all combined sinfulness of men.
Mourning for the Sins of Others
Once our sins have been forgiven, we know the difference that God’s comfort and blessing has produced in us. We have forgiveness, peace and the love of God in our heart.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
A godly sorrow for the sufferings and sins of others brings us to intercession.
We do not judge them for their sins but we believe for their repentance and deliverance. We call on God on their behalf, asking for mercy. Actually, it is God who calls us to intercede.
So I sought for a man among them who would make a wall, and stand in the gap before Me on behalf of the land, that I should not destroy it; but I found no one. (Ezekiel 22:30)
Instructions to Intercede
“Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men, for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceful life in all godliness and reverence. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:1–4)
“Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all saints.” (Ephesians 6:18)
Jesus mourned because the children of Israel rejected Him and for the consequences that they would suffer (Matthew 11:21-24, 23:37-39).
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘BLESSED is HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!’ ” (Matthew 23:37-39)
His prayer is being fulfilled when the Jews recognize Him as their Messiah and it will be completed at His Second Coming according to prophecy.
Sorrow for Jesus’ Suffering?
In some denominations, believers have sorrowed for Jesus’ suffering. This is not what Jesus and the Word of God say that we should do.
Most assuredly, I say to you that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; and you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will be turned into joy. A woman, when she is in labor, has sorrow because her hour has come; but as soon as she has given birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you. And in that day you will ask Me nothing. Most assuredly, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you.” (John 16:20 -23)
On the cross Jesus said, “It is finished.” His suffering is over. Now, He is seated in glory at the right hand of the Father. We should be grateful and rejoice for what he has done for us.
Today Jesus Is Exalted
“But he made himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death on the cross. Therefore, God also has highly exalted him and given him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven and of those on earth and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the father.” (Philippians 2:7–11)
Now, Jesus is more than comforted. He is highly exalted above every other power. He is no longer suffering but reigning through His Body on earth and waiting for the complete victory. It is not even conceivable to be sorrowing for that.
“For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.” (Romans 14:17)
Be Grateful and Rejoice
Now, we should be thankful, we should rejoice in His victory, we should carry out the commission He has given us and we should establish His Kingdom on earth (Matthew 28:18-20).
The Word of God and Jesus show us that no matter what the source of our mourning, we can overcome the negative source of this attitude by faith in Jesus’ victory on the cross, in His precious promises and in His love. The discomfort of mourning motivates those who know God to put their trust in Him and they shall receive comfort.
If you have areas in your life in which you are mourning, put your faith in God. Do not look at your circumstance, but focus unto Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith. He will direct your steps, comfort you, melt away the pain, fill you with confidence and turn your mourning into joy.
Please share your experience related to this Beatitude.