While my family was away celebrating the joy of being together at Disneyland at the end of November, we got a call to let us know that a dear lady in our congregation had passed away. She was a bright light, always ready with a cheerful smile and a word of encouragement. I didn’t know her well but I loved her nonetheless. I think the last time I saw her, she grabbed me in the hallway of the office, gave me a hug and told me how much she loved reading this blog. I didn’t know she was reading it and was so encouraged by her enthusiastic embrace.
Right before I got up to speak last Friday night, I thought of her and that smile of hers. She would have been there. Tears filled my eyes and a moment of missing her rose up with a potent strength. My vision blurred a bit and I quickly moved to focusing my mind on my intro. I couldn’t very well begin my message by weeping. That would be weird and a lot to explain to the guests. But I missed her being there. I have no doubt that she is gloriously free and dancing on streets of heaven. I am sure she is delighted to be there but we miss her here. Moments of mourning are moments of missing.
In my own devotions, I have been sitting on the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew. I have stayed on “Blessed are the poor in spirit” for a while. It is truly been a blessing to grasp this truth and make it apart of me. It is delightful to admit daily that I’ve got nothing and open up myself to receive God’s everything.
But what do I do with the next one?
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4 NIV)
I always kind of took the statements Jesus made her as stand alone statements, kind of like wise words or something. I always thought this “blessed mourning” was a paradox. Where is the blessing when you feel bereft? How do receive comfort when you are overcome with the sadness of missing someone who will not return? As death is a part of life, so grieving is apart of living. We are mortal beings with a limit on our time here, our time together.
In studying this “sermon”, I have discovered that Jesus was not talking about mourning the loss of a loved one. There is comfort for those walking through a season of grief but that is not what Jesus is speaking of here. The statements of the Sermon on the Mount are not stand alone but linked to each other. You can not understand one without the context of the one before it.
Blessed are the poor in spirit…blessed are those that mourn.
You don’t fully admit that you “have nothing” in you until the truth of it overwhelms you. You can’t truly take all God has for you until you are emptied of your self sufficiency. That is not a joy filled experience. There is a mourning that takes hold of the heart that sees the lie the world proclaims of “you can do it, you have what you need inside of you, if you dig deep enough you will find the strength you need to rise above your circumstances and thrive” as a lie.
• I can’t do it with God.
• I don’t have what I need inside of me.
• If I dig deep enough, I will only find more junk or a coping mechanism that harms me in the long run.
• I am wretchedly weak in the strongest moments of living in my own strength.
When I embrace this truth, I am able to lay down me and lay hold of God. So while this “blessed mourning” isn’t talking about the loss a loved one, it can help us deal with it. It gives us room to be real, to be weak, to admit that we can not do it without God. It allows us to openly lean on God and take life one day at a time.
The day will come when we are untied with our loved ones who have gone before us. Until that time comes, let us embrace the blessing that comes with mourning our own self sufficiency and lean heavily on His strength every day. I pray that he will fill you with His grace, use you to reach others with His love and wrap His strong arms of comfort around you.