PRAYING THE BEATITUDES, PART 3
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
If we thought with yesterday’s axiom we were done with spiritual oxymorons, we are mistaken. The second one is stranger still: (paraphrased) ‘Happiness is…being sad.’ Perhaps that is an oversimplification. Let’s look at it more carefully then.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted”. There is a reward: comfort. Yes, comfort is a good thing, but is it reasonable to go to such great lengths, merely to reap the reward of comfort? Isn’t that like inflicting a wound so as to be given a bandage?
In answer to that question I think we must look at the concept of mourning. ‘Mourn’ is a verb, an action word. It implies the act of deep sorrowing over something. When we hear the word mourn we often think of our response to a loved one’s death. It is grieving. It is denial, anger, bargaining and despair. It is wanting to change events so that the past can be reversed, and the loss avoided. That, in the spiritual sense, is exactly what Jesus wants us to experience. He wants us to mourn, to be sensitive to, and to grieve over our own sinful bent in such a way that we want death, spiritual death, to be stayed. That is repentance really. The injury to our soul is a mortal one. If we, like lepers, fail to sense our hopeless wound we will be doomed to an eternity of regret. Only by attending to the wound, bringing it to the Great Comforter, can we be healed. The comfort is thorough; it penetrates to the very core of our being.
Jesus teaches the second axiom, like the first, by following up with application. He again directs us (in Matt. 6:12) to pray. He calls us to plead with the Father, “Forgive us our debts”. Prayerfully confessing our rebellious ways (thoughts, words, actions—anything unloving toward God or our fellow humans) expresses grief. It is mourning. And it, says Jesus, is a blessed activity because it is prerequisite to forgiveness, wholeness, and daily-restored relationship with God. Not surprisingly, God’s Holy Spirit is often referred to as the Comforter. Prayerful mourning allows Him to work His great comfort in us.
Let’s take that nugget of truth offered us by the One who knows true blessedness. Let’s place it in the satchel at our side along with the jewel of Axiom One. They look rough on the exterior, but inside their beauty is stunning. May God help us embrace the strange but necessary call to be poor in spirit and to mourn.