“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Matthew 5:4
What does Jesus mean? Why is someone blessed when they grieve? Why mourn just to be comforted? Why not skip both?
Jesus isn’t talking about grieving over a tragic event, but mourning over our sins.
“They shall be comforted.” By these words Christ refers primarily to the removal of the guilt that burdens the conscience. This is accomplished by the Spirit’s application of the Gospel of God’s grace to one whom He has convicted of his dire need of a Savior. The result is a sense of free and full forgiveness through the merits of the atoning blood of Christ. –A.W Pink
Paul describes this mourning in 2 Corinthians 7:
As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us. For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death. 2 Corinthians 7:9-10
There are 2 kinds of grief: godly and worldly. Worldly grief is feeling bad because you got caught or things went wrong after you sinned. It’s regret because you look bad in others’ eyes or you messed up your life. But worldly grief doesn’t cause us to repent or turn to God. Years ago, a couple of us repeatedly appealed to a woman committing adultery. Her sin devastated her marriage and children. She was grieved – she wept and wailed but refused to break off the relationship. She shed tears but was unwilling to change.
The Corinthians’ grief led to repentance. “Godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret.” This kind of mourning results in blessing – when our grief over sin leads us to repent it yields the incredible comfort of salvation.
Godly sorrow regrets hurting God and we want to change, not to improve our lives or escape shame, but to please God. And when we mourn in this way, we’re comforted – with God’s assurance our sins are forgiven.
Godly mourning is a sign we’ve been born again. Unbelievers may grieve because their sins make them miserable, but not because they offend God. For believers, while grieving over our sins isn’t pleasant, it should encourage us that we do this because God’s Spirit dwells in us.
There are many other weaknesses and failures believers mourn over: our spiritual coldness and ongoing struggles with sin, our distracted worship and lack of desire for God’s Word and prayer. We wished we loved the saints more, had more compassion. These too show we’re born again. We wouldn’t care if God hadn’t changed us. The fact that we wish we were better servants pleases God.
The Comfort of God
Jesus doesn’t want us to mourn over our sins just so we feel bad but desires us to know his comfort, God’s full, free forgiveness and cleansing from sin.
“Blessed are those whose lawless deeds are forgiven, and whose sins are covered; blessed is the man against whom the Lord will not count his sin.” Romans 4:7-8
The Rhythm of Grief and Comfort
We grieve when loved ones reject Jesus, then are comforted when he saves them. We mourn when brothers and sisters sin against us, but are comforted when we forgive them and are restored. We mourn when we endure various trials, but we’re comforted when we see Christ formed in us. We grieve when a brother or sister goes home to be with the Lord, but are comforted knowing they rejoice in God’s presence. We grieve over our weakness and lack of desire for the Lord, but we are comforted knowing that God sees us as righteous in Christ.
We are “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” 2 Corinthians 6:10. And we look forward to that day of ultimate comfort when “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:4
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Mark Altrogge has been senior pastor of Sovereign Grace Church of Indiana, Pennsylvania, since 1982. He has written hundreds of songs for worship, including “I Stand in Awe” and “I’m Forever Grateful.” Mark and his wife, Kristi, have four sons and one daughter.
Find out more on his blog, The Blazing Center.