Happy Mourners?

Happy the mourning–because they will be comforted. (YLT)

Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted. (NIV, ESV, NASB)

God blesses those who mourn for they will be comforted. (NLT)

You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. (The Message)

The sadness in her voice is palpable.  Even over the phone, I hear the pain.  Fifty nine years of shared life and love is over and grief enshrouds her.  In her faith and sweetness, she wraps the mourning around her, pulling it in close like a blanket to protect from cold harsh reality.  The very thing that manifests the pain– the mourning–also brings comfort.  I see the truth in Jesus’ words: Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.  She doesn’t run away or try to forget.  She lives each moment embracing the pain of separation and the joy of knowing Dad’s whole and the peace that comes with trusting in a good God.    And the comfort isn’t a warm fuzzy or a numbness or a forgetfulness, but the comfort is being given the grace to take the next breath.  She’s blessed as she grieves.

I try to be real and honest here in this little place, so I have to tell you it’s been a rough week. I sit here on a Saturday night a month after Dad’s death and my heart hurts.  My futile attempt to stop the tears exhaust me so I finally quit trying and succumb to the salty, wet relief.  As the tears streak my face, I contemplate these words of Jesus that I’ve heard all my life Happy the mourning–because they will be comforted and try to make sense of what He said.  I see it in my mom and yet to know the reality in my own life seems difficult.  Even though I’ve walked through grief before, I don’t think I’ve ever fully understood God’s particular brand of comfort.  Maybe it’s just me and this is obvious to the rest of you, but I think I assumed that being comforted meant you’d feel better…that you’d be relieved from the pain or removed from the mourning,  or, at least, that it would be lessened.  But I know that’s not the case.  Interestingly, Jesus isn’t in the business of taking us out of our pain, but meeting us in the midst of it.  The comfort in the mourning isn’t relief from suffering but Jesus’ known presence in the middle of it.

And sometimes we’re alone with Him in the hurt, and sometimes He sends His own followers to be His hands and feet.  Paul says in his letter to the Romans, that out of an overflow of love, we “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.”  and I am so thankful for the brothers and sisters in Christ who’ve joined us in our grief and brought God’s comfort and hope. I don’t know how long we will mourn, but tonight I’m thankful, even in the midst of the hurt, for the promise that as long as the mourning lasts, the comfort also remains.

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