BLESSED ARE THOSE WHO MOURN…

Please find below my teaching notes for Pt. 3 “Blessed are Those Who Mourn” from the series BE.  For personal use only.  All other uses contact info@gccnetwork.org.  (c) 2012 Terry Broadwater.

Welcome to the 2nd “Beatitude” regarding “how to BE people of the Kingdom of God!”  Last week we talked about the first thing Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

This whole idea of being “poor in spirit” is recognizing your deep need and dependency on God.  The kingdom does not belong to those who think they’ve earned it, or merit it, or are better than anyone else; nor do you come to God ready to negotiate!  The kingdom belongs to those who are poor in spirit!

Here is Jesus’ view of humanity and his kingdom; what Jesus’ expectations are of those who would follow him, enter into his kingdom, BE part of his Kingdom in the “here and now”, and they’re hearing these statements, these “Beatitudes” for the first time… Jesus wants them, and us to move past the surface to the substantial!

And the second thing he says is, “Blessed are those who MOURN, for they will be comforted.”  Mt. 5:4

THE MEANING OF MOURNING IS NOT HAPPY BUT SADNESS!

Some translations try to make this, “Happy are those who mourn…” That may work with some of the other beatitudes, “Happy are the meek, or pure in heart, or peacemakers…” But “happy are those who mourn” doesn’t work with this beatitude.

Because “mourn” means “to be sad!”  So you can’t say, “Happy are those who are sad!”  Sadness is deep emotion that often causes pain, grief, sorrow, and overwhelming heartache… 

Jesus takes this “Blessed are” on the front and “they will be comforted” on the end, and puts this messy part in the middle- “those who mourn!”  “Blessing” we get and “comfort” we get, but “mourning?”  Do we really want to have to deal with mourning?

None of us want “more mourning in our lives…” No one has ever connected this idea of not being fulfilled because there’s not enough “mourning” in your life!  Yet, Jesus says, “Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted.”

A couple of things to consider: 1) Doesn’t everyone “mourn?” and 2) Isn’t this an all-inclusive statement?  Well, because Jesus specifically says this regarding what he’s looking for in people to BE in his kingdom, we’ve got to realize something deeper is being implied here!  In many ways, he’s saying the ability to mourn, is a gift, a blessing!

But there are so many people who don’t know how to mourn, or can’t mourn, or, won’t mourn!  I’m talking about things that can happen in our lives that are so overwhelming that we think the best way to deal with it is NOT TO FEEL!  Sometimes when we think something is going to be lost from us forever, we just stop caring about it!

We all go through very common experiences, but we all don’t respond to them the same!  There are those who hear Jesus say, “Blessed are those who mourn…” and that is an emotionally detached reality. 

You can get to a place in your life where you refuse to mourn because you don’t want to have to deal with the sadness!

MOURNING REQUIRES TWO THINGS: LOSS AND LOVE!

Now, some suggest we need to take what Jesus is saying and put it into the context of being “sad over your sin.”  Although we could certainly make such a case; we could be guilty of actually taking it out of context!  Because Jesus is very careful in his Sermon on the Mount to deal with so many of life’s emotions and how to overcome them and truly BE people who experience his Kingdom in our present moments.

BUT- Mourning is more about “loss and “love!”  If you’ve NEVER mourned you’ve either never lost anything you loved, or you’ve never loved anything you’ve lost!  The reality is, if you’ve lost a lot of things you’ve loved, you can get emotionally overwhelmed, and you have to choose how you’ll deal with that- many of us choose to detach ourselves from those feelings deeply!

The question is NOT- will you ever lose anything??  The question IS: “Will you ever risk loving anything or more importantly, anyone?” 

Jesus is speaking to a crowd that understood loss.  They were the outcasts, the poor, the broken-down, oppressed people… those in humanity who are always told they don’t matter to anyone!

KEY: They not only had to mourn the death of those they loved, but also the deaths of their hopes and dreams and the death of their own dignity!  In this extremely heightened religious context, where the entire nation are told they are the people of God; they had to wonder if God too, had abandoned them!  And Jesus is letting them know, here’s the essential requirement: “I’m not only looking for those who are poor in spirit, but those who mourn- willing to risk the loss of love because they’re willing to risk loving!

We choose our condition: you can choose to be the kind of person who never loves deeply, or cares deeply, and so whatever happens doesn’t matter to you!  Or you can choose to be the kind of person who mourns deeply- especially if you’ve lived a long life; because you’ve experienced the loss of so much that you’ve loved!

But often people who’ve lost much begin to see mourning as a negative experience and they just stop loving deeply because you can’t mourn what you don’t love!

BUT Jesus mourned!  Jesus wept!  Jesus mourned over Lazarus (Jn. 11).  There’s nothing unhealthy or weak about a person who grieves or feels deep sadness; mourns deeply the loss of someone they’ve loved!  In fact, this can be the most powerful emotion!

Consider- Jesus mourned over an entire city!  He wept over Jerusalem (Luke 19)!  The heart of God is so immense, his love for his people so deep, that he mourned over the loss- they turned their backs on him…  The reality is, the more profoundly you love; the more profoundly you’ll feel the loss!

Part of discovering what it means to BE people of the kingdom, who bring the kingdom of God into the present moment of our lives and other people’s lives around us, is opening up to this dimension of our life that is willing to feel!  Willing to risk loving and losing what you love!

MOURNING MOVES YOU TO BECOME A MORE SUBSTANTIAL PERSON!

All of us go through our own mourning process and the question is not will we suffer loss, but will we allow it to help us become a more substantial person, the person God wants us to BE?

KEY: Mourning is the real proof that love is more powerful than death!  You don’t stop loving when there’s death!  You mourn because you loved, and you continue to love, despite the loss!  Why?  Because to be able to love deeply, unconditionally, is the very heart of God!  And in many cases, you know the loss is temporary, because of what God’s love has provided!

“God is love” John said (1 Jn. 4:8)!  And you cannot connect with a God who is the very definition and example of unconditional, unadulterated love and avoid mourning in this life.  You can’t connect with “love” and escape “mourning!”

The promise is not that you’ll never mourn, but that you will be comforted when you DO mourn!  THE COMFORT IS THIS OVERWHELMING PEACE THAT OVERWHELMS THE OVERWHELMING SADNESS!

Ever known a desperate situation and God just gives you a comfort for it?  Example: Paul Fisher- died of a heart amorism at 29!  “Why God?”  Ever ask God that question and feel the overwhelming frustration of his silence?

It’s hard in the moment sometimes to see how God can use those situations to make you a more substantial person!  But this deep love and sense of deep loss moves you to become a person of deep hope, and there’s no greater “comfort” than that!  Maybe this helps explain it…

WE CAN MOURN AND BE COMFORTED KNOWING GOD WILL MAKE ALL THINGS NEW!

Rev. 21:1-4 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. 2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. 4He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

I don’t understand everything in Revelation, but I get this!  God is going to make everything new and He’s going to bring to an end the experience of mourning!  While mourning in this life is one of the most profound human experiences because of loss in love, there will be a time when “He will wipe away every tear, death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning… for the former things have passed away!”

KEY: John says, “the sea was no more…”  What’s that about?  Why no more sea?  Could it be that John was connecting his emotions to the “place” that had caused him so much loss?

Consider John is exiled to Patmos.  All the other disciples had been brutally martyred.  He lives on Patmos his entire life and dies there of old age- separated from all those he loved… everyday all he saw was the “sea!”  And the sea was his physical reminder of his desperate mourning.  To most of us, the sea everyday would be awesome, but to John it was a constant reminder, that in his life, even when you aspire to the highest level of value and virtue, in this life you love profoundly and there is profound loss; and there is mourning!

Isolation, separation, desperation… maybe the reason John could write these words so eloquently, as he is privileged to “see this amazing vision”, and he says, “all tears will be wiped away” was because of all the tears he’d cried all those years… Maybe in what we merely regard as “poetic imaging” John is trying to tell us that “there will be no more reminders of deep loss and the deep mourning that accompanies it and that provides comfort.

I don’t know what personifies your pain… but I know, “Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted!” 

Jesus invites us to BE people of his Kingdom!  To BE people, even in our present moments, or those sure to come, of “mourning” to NOT be insincere or superficial or detached, but to BE people who experience a deep and substantial hope, faith, and love!  And although there is sadness and mourning, there is love, compassion, and comfort!

Eccl. 3:4 “There is a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…”

Ps. 30:11 “You have turned my mourning into dancing…”

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they WILL be comforted.”

Mourning is not merely some weak display of emotion.  It is an indicator of the fact you have loved deeply; and that you are loved deeply by God!  What greater comfort can there be? 

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