“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).
When I’m writing or speaking about these opening lines of the Sermon on the Mount, it’s almost inevitable that I end up defining what the word blessed means, or explaining the Latin reason why this passage is known as The Beatitudes. There’s a time for those things, but this is not that time.
This is just a simple post, inspired by the undeniable fact that mourning is part of life, because death itself is part of life. The more we love, the more it hurts when we lose those we love.
Let’s just be completely honest; there is nothing blessed about mourning itself. There’s nothing happy about putting a towel over your pillow because you know you’re about to cry yourself to sleep. There’s nothing inherently joyous about hot tears streaming down your face. There’s nothing to be envied about a person who’s too grief-stricken to speak. Nobody looks at that person and wants to trade places with them.
That’s why this very simple statement has an explanation. Jesus knew that in the depths of our sorrows, we wouldn’t be able to see through the storm clouds to consider ourselves to be blessed, happy, joyous, enviable, or anything like it. And so Jesus explained it for us.
The reason why Jesus understands us is because Jesus Himself knew how it felt to lose a friend. Jesus knew what it was like to feel that burning mixture of anger and sorrow that expresses itself in tears better than words.
And so Jesus explained the blessedness of mourning. Those who mourn are blessed because they will be comforted. It’s just a simple future tense, the normal way of stating something that will happen. The comfort is coming, arriving at any moment. But it’s also a divine promise, because God Himself said it was going to happen.
Jesus can say with certainty that comfort is coming, because He is the one who will bring it. As the gospels unfolded, Jesus told the disciples that when He left, He would send the Comforter, the Holy Spirit. That’s the same third of the Trinity that is also called the Spirit of Christ.
When you mourn, you don’t feel blessed. But you are. You are blessed in your mourning because you have a divine promise that you will be comforted. Jesus could promise that you’ll be comforted, because He will be the one to comfort you through His own Spirit. “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).
If you’re mourning, take heart. Comfort is close by.