What have you lost recently? A job? An opportunity? A friend? Everyone loses. Loss is just part of life, and learning how to deal with loss is part of growing up.
For the first time since 1965, Wichita State University made it to the NCAA Final Four Championship. I’m not a sports fan (at all) but I am a Shocker. I bought a t-shirt, and I even watched the game. And while it was a great game (so proud of the Shockers for hanging in there), it didn’t turn out the way I hoped. They lost, yes. But they gained something else in return. And I think that it works the same way in most situations. Once we realize that we have lost something or once we accept that we have lost something, we can be open to accepting what we’ll receive in return.
Today’s verse is Matthew 5:4.
God blesses those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
I’m still reading the Beatitudes from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount this week, studying the things that God says matters. Most of the Beatitudes state pretty ironic things. Like yesterday: You’re happy when you realize you need help.
So what about today? You’re happy when you’re sad? For real? Is that what it actually means?
This is the same verse in the Amplified Version:
Blessed and enviably happy [with a happiness produced by the experience of God’s favor and especially conditioned by the revelation of His matchless grace] are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted!
Let’s begin at the beginning here. What exactly does it mean to mourn? According to Dictionary.com, it means “to feel or express sorrow or grief.” I always thought mourning was something usually relegated to funerals, honestly, but with that vague of a definition, mourning can be expressing sadness about anything.
So when’s the last time you mourned? I know a lot of WSU fans who mourned last Saturday when those last 30 seconds of the game ticked by and Louisville kept scoring despite the Shockers’ valiant efforts. I know a lot of people who mourn significant losses and a lot of people who mourn insignificant losses. I know a lot of mournful people. If we think about it, we all do. So if this verse were true, wouldn’t that mean that all those mournful people would be happy?
Here’s something I’ve learned about mourning: If you desire sadness, you’ll never accept comfort.
Isn’t it true that there are some people who refuse to be comforted no matter what you say? They just want to make a big deal out of everything so they can get the attention? And that’s usually what happens. When they go on and on about how difficult their life is or how bad they have it, the compassionate, considerate people around them go out of their way to comfort them. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. But if that person is only seeking the attention, they’ll never be truly comforted, and that sadness will never change them.
As a result, I’ve kind of cut mourning out of my life. I don’t do it. At least, I haven’t done it because somehow I started to see it as a waste of time and energy. I don’t like attention. I don’t like causing disturbances or rocking the boat. So making a big deal out of feeling sad about anything is out of the question.
But the Bible doesn’t say not to mourn. This verse says you’ll be happy if you do. God expects us to mourn. Why? Well, that depends on your definition of happy. Here the happiness Jesus is talking about comes from experiencing God’s favor, conditioned by understanding His grace.
Whoa. Let’s go over that for a second.
When you are mourning a loss–and I’m talking about a significant loss, not a basketball game–when you’re truly feeling hollow and empty inside, when the grief is just too much for you to bear, when you couldn’t care less about how people react to your grief, that is real mourning. That is the true expression of sadness, and that isn’t wrong. On the contrary, Scripture says over and over again that mourning is a natural thing. There’s a time for it. We need to allow the energy for it, because there are so many significant things to mourn over.
But as a Christ follower, we need to have a different perspective on mourning and grief and sadness. Loss doesn’t mean the same thing to us. Death doesn’t mean the same thing to us as it does to people who don’t follow Christ. When we experience loss, it’s a terrible thing, but while it’s okay to mourn that loss, we need to remember that this life isn’t all there is. That sense of mourning is temporary–or at least it should be, because whatever we “lose” on in this life will be returned to us in eternity much better than it ever was here.
Even when we’re mourning, we can still experience God’s favor. Even when we’re overwhelmed with grief, we can still grasp the concept that God is pleased with us. Why? Because as Christ followers, we need to understand that God isn’t punishing us. Yes, it’s a good idea always to check your heart to make sure there’s no sin there. But if your heart is pure before God, He’s not punishing you. He’s just doing the best He can with a world that we broke, and sometimes bad things happen to good people. And sometimes the trouble that comes our way is a sign that God is pleased with us–why else would our enemy take a sledgehammer to us?
So what have you lost today? Or this week? Or this year? Whatever or whoever you lost, you’ll get something in return, the least of which is comfort from God, knowing that He loves you and that He believes in you and that He’s got it under control. Don’t be afraid to mourn, as long as you’re willing to accept His comfort.