From our introduction to the Beatitudes last week, we learned that these statements are not results – outcomes expected from our actions – things we get if we meet certain criteria or conditions. Instead, they are congratulations for what we have at this very moment, characterizing us as blessed.
The others follow that same pattern: declaration and congratulations – a position and a benefit we can count on because we’re in that position.
Today’s Beatitude, though, is going to take some explaining: Oh the blessedness of those who mourn…
There are things we ought not say when someone dies:
· Oh, there just better off now.
· Heaven got another angel.
· Guess God needed them there more than we needed them here.
· All things work together for good.
· Blessed are those who mourn.
Blessed is the last thing they would ever feel at that time.
What we feel instead: My tears have been my food day and night, while they [my tears] say to me all day long, "Where is your God?" These things I remember and I pour out my soul within me. For I used to go along with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God, with the voice of joy and thanksgiving, a multitude keeping festival. [I am sad because I had a life I no longer have. And my response to that loss is: I am in despair. I am disturbed.] Why are you in despair, O my soul? And why have you become disturbed within me? Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him for the help of His presence. (Ps 42:3-5)
But David saw a completed cycle. Yes, I mourn but someday I will no longer mourn, because of the help of the presence of my God.
Vance Havner – Reading: the Lord doesn’t slumber or sleep. “Lord, if you’re gonna stay up, I’m going to bed.”
David knew that the presence of God brought help which was a generic word for “fill in the blank.” What is my need? What are my issues? They are all covered because I am blessed when God comes into my moment.
Why are those who mourn blessed? Because they will experience the presence of the Lord in a unique and personal way, a way that will bring to them what they need.
The help of His presence. When Jesus entered into someone’s situation things changed.
· Healing, Deliverance, Resurrection
· Blind saw, deaf heard, mute spoke, crippled walked, dead lived, demonized were delivered
· Weeping turned into joy
· Infirmity turned into dancing
· Sorrow was replaced with shouting
When Jesus began His ministry, He quoted from Isaiah 61: the Spirit of the Lord is on Me…to comfort all who mourn, to grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.
By His coming, He brought with Him ultimate comfort for mourners, beauty instead of ashes for those in defeat, joy that counteracts sorrow, praise instead of despair.
What’s He saying? He will not leave us where we are. Nor will He leave us the way He finds us. We will be helped.
Why doesn’t He just take the pain away? Stop the roller coaster and let me get off, or at least catch my breath. If He did we’d miss the blessing part of mourning.
For thus says the high and exalted One Who lives forever, whose name is Holy, "I dwell on a high and holy place, and also with the contrite and lowly of spirit in order to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite. (Isa 57:15)
God allows mourning so we can experience His reviving.
He revives the spirit of the ones in despair.
He revives the heart of the ones humbled by the circumstances of their life.
Revive – bring back to life. Grief can make us think life has stopped. It can drain us of all the juices of life: emotional, physical, spiritual. Reviving is a process by which God refills our depleted life tank. Rarely is that done quick. We can’t handle the full restoration that God intends all at once. He refills us little by little along the journey.
Mourning is a journey that begins with walking through a valley that seems unending.
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. [He covers my needs - He provides my help] He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me…Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, (Ps 23:1-4)
Within the goodness and mercy of God – God doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves – He makes us, leads us, restores us, guides us. He actively shepherds us through our mourning.
It’s a two-part journey.
Part One: O the blessedness of those who mourn…That’s the valley where we learn to recognize and rely on His presence bringing us our help. How long does that take? For some not long. For others quite a while. There’s no timetable. A shepherd moves the flock at the pace of the weakest sheep.
Then when it’s time, part two kicks in: resting in the crook of His staff as He lifts us up into His comfort. O the blessedness of those who mourn for they will be comforted.
Rod and staff are among the shepherd’s equipment. He has more. I hear David saying, “Your equipment brings me comfort.” One very useful piece of equipment is the shepherd’s crook at the top of his staff. To reach sheep who have fallen into crevices where they can’t get out. He uses the crook to hook them and lift them up.
When we’ve fallen into the crevice of loss, darkness like a steep valley overshadows us. It’s hard to climb out so He walks with us through the valley. Along the way He meets our needs. As we walk, we anticipate the day when we will be comforted - when He reaches down and lifts us up. He will not comfort us by leaving us in the crevice. He will ultimately comfort us by lifting us out.
He sets on high those who are lowly [the depressed], and those who mourn are lifted to safety [deliverance]. (Job 5:11)
The blessedness covers both the valley of mourning and the day when He will lift us out of that mourning into His comfort.
There is a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance. (Ecc 3:4)
There is a time to walk with God in our sorrow and a time to let Him lift us out of that sorrow. When? When it’s time. What’s He doing in the meantime?
The LORD will command His lovingkindness in the daytime; and His song will be with me in the night, a prayer to the God of my life. (Ps 42:8)
The LORD your God is in your midst, a victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy. (Zech 3:17)
Sorrow shows us God as we’ve never seen Him before. It teaches us, that when we’ve been driven to the depths, we will find God there providing exactly what we need.
"I walked a mile with Pleasure, She chattered all the way, but left me none the wiser for all she had to say. I walked a mile with Sorrow, and ne'er a word said she, but, oh, the things I learned from her when Sorrow walked with me!" Robert Browning
There are some things we only learn in the valley.
One of the greatest lessons will be: Oh the blessedness of the ones in the bitterest sorrow that life can bring for they will experience the very presence of God meeting their needs and joy when they discover He has lifted them into His comfort.
O LORD, You have lifted me up…I cried to You for help, and You healed me. You have brought up my soul from the depths; You have kept me alive, that I would not go down to the pit. I will sing praise to the LORD…and give thanks to His holy name. For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for a lifetime; weeping may last for the night, but a shout of joy comes in the morning. (Ps 30:1-5)
No way of knowing how long that night will last, but count on this: God is with you. And throughout that night, remember the promise remains: morning is coming and with it a shout of joy when He lifts you up into His comfort.
1. Life is precious and losing it is a bitter sorrow.
2. To help us process our loss, God lets us mourn.
3. While we mourn, He walks us through that valley.
4. At the end of the valley we will experience His comfort restoring our lives.
5. When everything within you says no, the Spirit of God whispers, “Yes, you can!”