“Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.”
(Matthew 5:4, NIV)
I have been sitting with this passage for a few weeks, not really knowing how to interact with it, not really sure of what it was trying to speak to me. It was the idea of mourning that was tripping me up. I don’t really know what it means to mourn, what it looks like or even how to do it. I think that says as much about me as it does the American culture we live in. Americans don’t mourn well, especially American Christians. We are taught to say “It is well with my soul” when we are confronted with any kind of loss. We are encouraged to throw a party instead of a funeral. But, setting that aside for a moment and returning to the passage at hand, I think that mourning is a stand-in for processing loss.
In this Beatitude, Jesus is inviting us to mourn when we need to mourn. He is saying that if you choose to enter into the process of grieving a loss and stick to through the end, you will come out of it comforted. This process is not supposed to be a lonely journey. God, through the Holy Spirit, is ever present and walking through it with us. There is also family, friends, and the community of faith to whom we can lean on throughout this process, if we choose to invite others into it with us.
“Happy are people who grieve, because they will be made glad.”
(Matthew 5:4, CEB)
I cannot prescribe what this process will look like, nor how long it will last, but I do know it will include three things: love, acceptance, and forgiveness. This is first and foremost a work of love. It is love for those around us and ourselves that will lead us into the process and sustain us through it. Acceptance involves trusting the process and the new reality that the loss brings us into. Lastly, loss will most likely require some amount of forgiveness, and probably more than once. All told, we will come out of this process not only comforted, but able to comfort others. Choosing to go through a season of mourning is a very brave thing to do. There is nothing glamorous about it. It is a lot of hard work. But, there will be an end to it, and that end will bring love, joy, and peace.
My hope it that in embracing Jesus encouragement here, we can begin to establish a healthy environment for those experiencing the pain of loss and even help to change our culture so that grief would not be something to be dismissed, but seen as the next loving and logical step to living a life of wholeness and love.
Grace and peace,