What Does "Blessed Are Those Who Mourn" Mean?

The following is a related excerpt from Blessed Are Those Who Mourn: Meeting God in the Midst of Suffering by Pat McLeod on Crosswalk.com. 

Jesus Promised: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).

The moment he read that beatitude, a light went on inside of me, and compelled me to offer a few comments to the crowd gathered that afternoon.

Ironically, I reiterated many of the same words I had said nearly eight years earlier at the conference where I had been confronted by the “You’re no mourning expert” conferee. I admitted that I had always found it strange that Jesus would espouse such an obvious oxymoron.

In essence, He said, “How happy are those who are sad.” I confessed I had a lot to learn about what Jesus actually meant by those words. But one thing that I knew he did not mean was that grief, sorrow, and loss are not real or not painful.

I also admitted I had never felt such overwhelming sadness as I’d felt earlier that day. Clearly “blessed are those who mourn” does not mean we are happy in our sorrow because our sorrows, losses, pains, or sadnesses are not real or deeply felt. They are. What followed my eruption of sorrow in the car was a deep and almost indescribable feeling of consolation.

It came from the realization that my pain was pulling me into a story greater than our own small story of tragedy — a story of a Father who had endured the suffering of His own Son and who felt, who understood, who could sympathize with and comfort me in my pain.

How does blessing come through mourning?

I’m still no expert on mourning, but the blessedness of God’s comfort — the sense of peace, unshakable joy, love, consolation, life, and communion — did not and could not circumvent the pain of mourning. They came through it and in the midst of it in several ways.

First of all, these moments of mourning enabled me to see the world as it really is — as both dignified and broken. When God became incarnate, He dignified the material world by making it the dwelling place of His holiness. Yet the world is also full of sin, death, injustice, suffering, and evil.

Mourning acknowledges both good and evil in the world.

Second, through mourning, we see ourselves as we really are — as those created in God’s image to know God and commune with Him in perfect love.

But our sin has marred that image. Evil and death are not just at work out there in the world; they exist inside of me. Through mourning, we linger over the effects of our sin on others, including the Son of God. The resulting sorrow leads to repentance and change.

Third, and most important, moments of intense suffering and loss and the mourning that follows give us a glimpse of God as He really is — as the crucified God who “was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering” (Isaiah 53:3-4).

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