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Blessed Are Those Who Mourn

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"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." (Matthew 5:4)

What does it mean to “mourn”? It is certainly top of mind these days and associated with a range of physical losses - from the loss of a game or season (inconsequential) to the loss of a job or one’s physical health (catastrophic). Everyone wants to believe there will be an end to sadness and mourning. It’s easy to see why this beatitude is a favorite in difficult times.

Throughout the Beatitudes, Jesus teaches believers how to live, focusing on our internal character rather than our outward actions. In Matthew 5:4, Jesus is not speaking about mourning the sorrows of the world like failure, suffering, or death. He is speaking about mourning sin, and He is promising comfort. He is telling us that those who are blessed are the ones who are brokenhearted over their sin and despise it.

Mourning Sin

This type of mourning goes beyond just being upset over the consequences of sin. Even those who don’t believe in God feel the pain of sin’s consequences and feel sorrow over their mistakes. If we really want to make a heart change, we cannot just feel bad about our sin. We have to move past mourning the consequences to really mourning the sin itself.

Do you know of someone who has made a series of bad choices – and even though this person suffers from those choices, he or she continues to make similar choices? If our character does not change or we don’t learn from our mistakes, bad choices will continue to be made. This is why brokenness over our sin is a requirement – our character changes because our heart changes.

Godly Sorrow Leads to Comfort

Feeling sorry over a mistake and feeling godly sorrow are two different things. When we find ourselves only thinking about how a situation affects us, we are not really experiencing sorrow. Godly sorrow means we are broken over how our sin has affected our relationship with God and with others. When we come to the end of ourselves and understand our desperate need for God, we have arrived at godly sorrow.

“For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.” (2 Corinthians 7:10)

The back half of Matthew 5:4 brings good news. It promises that when we mourn our sin, we receive comfort. Recognizing our own sin and being truly broken over it is a painful thing. True repentance involves asking forgiveness for the hurt our sin has caused. But Jesus is saying that when we do this, we will find comfort and peace through restoration with God – and we can live looking up in hope instead of down in despair.

The Person Who Satisfies

Sometimes we mourn because we suffer, and suffering is a mystery. Why do certain things happen to one person and not another, or how can a virus shut down God’s world? 

When talking about answers to life-altering questions, Ray Pritchard once said, “The answer is a Person, not an explanation. Someone may reply, ‘but that’s not enough. I want a real answer.’ To which I reply, if God Himself is not enough, then no answer would ever satisfy you.”

When we ask God questions about the suffering and mourning that we are experiencing, God replies with the only solid answer, “I am that I am.”

We are left with the fact that no one knows the Lord’s mind, no one gives him advice, and God doesn’t owe us any explanations. We simply have to rest in Paul’s doxology “For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” (Romans 11:36)

Let’s shut out the noise today, seek godly sorrow over our sin, draw comfort in our repentance, and let the Person handle the rest.