Jesus gives a curious word of consolation to his disciples in Matthew 5:4: Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Mourning can be understood as grief and sorrow caused by profound loss. Certainly when I reflect on how the troubles of this year have impacted us, this is a fitting response. This has been a year filled with sorrow caused by the devastating effects of the pandemic, overt racial injustice, hostility and rioting, and an extremely divisive political climate, just to name a few. You may have also been hit personally with the loss of something or someone you love. This extends to hopes and desires you did not see realized this year: walking at graduation, celebrating the wedding you planned for, pursuing your career. These each have their own unique heartache. So how can Jesus call those who experience mourning blessed?
“… for they will be comforted.” Those who mourn are called blessed because they will have the comfort of God himself. Jesus speaks these words in the first section of his famous sermon on the mount. In the opening beatitudes, Jesus is sharing who it is that belongs to his kingdom. These are the ones he calls his own – the poor in spirit, those who mourn, those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, the meek, etc. Grieving the brokenness of this world and the condition of your own poverty and need before Christ is the path that leads to comfort. My fellow believer, I want to encourage you to invite Jesus into the losses you are grieving, that you might receive his care and comfort for you.
There are a number of ways you may find God’s comfort in mourning, such as receiving prayer from a friend who cares for you, being reassured God is with you in your pain, or knowing Christ is one who can sympathize with your experience, having shared in our human condition. I want to particularly encourage you in this advent season with the comfort of God that can be found in hope.
This is how Isaiah speaks of Jesus’ coming:
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
because the Lord has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord
for the display of his splendor.
– Isaiah 61:1-3
Jesus has come and will fulfill what was foretold about his coming; he will bind up the brokenhearted, comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve. Instead, he has a crown of beauty instead of ashes, oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. This is the secure hope you stand on in Christ Jesus. What a beautiful truth to behold!
I pray in this season that the pain of your grief might be lightened by the comfort of this hope.
Citylight Resident Counselor