Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. (Matthew 5:4 NIV)
In this second beatitude, Jesus again challenges the thinking not only of His day, but of our day too!
Most of us are able to look at those for whom life is going great, and figure that God is really blessing them. But all too often, we look at the people for whom life has become one big challenge, and figure that there must be some kind of sin in their lives that they are being punished for.
This is not a new concept. Even in the time of Job (around 2000 BC), people figured that if your life stinks, that’s because God is punishing you for some hidden sin. And that attitude is still visible sometimes today. If a person loses their job, they are urged to look at their hearts and see if there isn’t some sin or rebellion hidden away there somewhere. If someone gets sick, their relationship with God sometimes comes under scrutiny. If a prayed-for healing doesn’t come, the person who isn’t healed is often accused (sometimes pityingly) of not having enough faith – in other words, there is a spiritual problem in their life that is blocking God’s ability to work.
But here is Jesus, pointing out that those who are mourning, in other words, those who are feeling miserable because of the bad things that are going on in their lives, are the ones who are really blessed!
The reason for this is pretty obvious if we look at the whole counsel of Scripture. We live in a broken world. That brokenness came as a result of the sin of Adam and Eve, and by their rebellion against the clear command of God, the whole world, the whole universe in fact, was broken; that which God Himself pronounced “very good” was now subject to death and decay and entropy. Ever since then, bad things happen to both the good and the bad. Some of the bad things, like disease, natural calamities, and wars, have increased over time as a result of increases in the amount of germs, an increase in the world’s entropy, and in the sinful infection in the hearts of mankind. And this brokenness is no respecter of persons.
Jesus Himself told His disciples clearly that “in this world you will have trouble” (John 16:33 NIV), in other words, life is going to throw you some nasty stuff that you are going to end up having to deal with. He went on to say, “But take heart! I have overcome the world,” meaning that He was going to be there with us through whatever trials we might happen to face, sickness, deaths, and even persecution, and He would help us to get through it.
This, at its root, is the reason behind his statement that those who mourn are actually blessed. When we are riding high, when life is good and everything seems to be going our way, we really don’t need God to help us out, and we tend to put Him on a back burner in our minds. But when things head south, we have an amazing opportunity to see Him work in our lives, because we have nowhere else to turn. God can’t comfort the already comfortable – but He can definitely comfort those who are mourning in the midst of the “stuff” of life. He can show Himself powerful in the lives of those who are without any power to positiviely affect their circumstances. So when we are mourning, we are in a perfect position to experience God’s blessings in powerful ways.