"Blessed are those who mourn," Jesus said, "for they shall be comforted" (Matthew 5:4, ESV). For the one mourning, this can be an odd statement. Confusing in a difficult time. But truly, there is something amazing in these words.
"Blessed?" might the grieving mother ask. You can almost hear the pain in the question of a daughter who lost here father, "How am I blessed?" It's difficult to see a person mourning the loss of friend or family member. From within this perspective, it's hard to see the blessing. Blessed? It certainly seems like a fair question.
In November of 2013, my wife and I lost our baby. We mourn, but we've also been comforted. Blessed, actually. The comfort comes from God, often through others. There are times in our grieving and sadness when we directly feel the hand of God and experience his peace There are also times when we are comforted and blessed by God's people. Obviously I would prefer not to have lost my son and I certainly wish my heart was not grieved, but without this sadness, I wouldn't have this opportunity to experience Jesus' promise or feel drawn to God as I do in this way, at this time. The comfort would not likely be as sweet without the mourning, just as the joy of the day's first light is greater after enduring a difficult dark night (Psalm 30).
While it can be a challenge to see the blessing from within the clutches of a grieving season, that does not change the truth that it is a gift. For those who mourn, there is grace from God, a blessing. This gift may be easier to understand in eternity, when our views are not clouded by our fallen nature, but blessed are those who are comforted now.
At the moment I wish Lisa and I were grieving less and our feelings of comfort more, but we realize this is a journey that is often traveled slowly. The road feels long, but Christ is with us. "Blessed are those who mourn."
Shortly into our mourning, I sad down with Tina Pelton and recorded a two part podcast series for Salty Believer Unscripted on the topic of grieving. If you are grieving or in a position to comfort or bless someone who is, these podcasts may be helpful.
*The painting of "Old Man Grieving" is by Vincent van Gogh and is in the public domain.