Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The Paradox of Mourning

"Blessed are those who mourn,for they will be comforted."

Of all the paradoxes in the Beattitudes, this is the most dramatic. This passage seems so paradoxical it is hard to comprehend its meaning. Here are a few quotes from people much smarter than me.

"It's an astonishing thing to speak of the joy of sorrow, of the gladness of grief, and of the bliss of the brokenhearted," writes Bible scholar William Barclay.

"EVERY SUFFERING can be blessed because it hollows out a place in us for God and his comfort, which is infinite joy."
Peter Kreeft, Back to Virtue

"IT IS impossible for one to live without tears who considers things exactly as they are."
Gregory of Nyssa, De Beatitudine

In our world mourning is often seen as a bad thing, or something to be avoided at all costs. But in Jesus' life we see mourning was a part of his life many times. Jesus mourned when his friend Lazarus died. Jesus mourned when he looked over the people who were like "sheep without a shepherd". I am sure Jesus mourned when his closest friend Peter denied him three times. Jesus mourned on the cross, as he died for the sins of the world. He mourned when he was separated from His Father as he cried out, "My God, my God why hast thou forsaken me."

Jesus taught us that to be a human meant at some point we will experience deep mourning. But as the scripture says, "Though mourning shall last through the night, His joy comes in the morning". So though we mourn over sin, through Jesus' forgiveness we return to joy. Though we mourn over the loss of loved one, it leads us to the deep comfort of our God who knows what it is like to die. In part, mourning teaches us to appreciate what is really important in life. It grounds us as to what is real, and reminds us how temporary things of this earth are. And eventually mourning leads us into the arms of the One who can bring us true joy in the midst of suffering. Then we will be able to say, "the joy of The Lord is my strength".

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