I remember when my dad awoke me one morning during my middle school years. He woke me up gently to break the news to me that our dog, Dallas, had passed away. Recently, our family took our beloved but diminished pup of 16 years to the vet to say goodbye. It was so sad to be there together and each take turns loving on Samson knowing that it was the end of a long friendship, just as it was heartbreaking to awake that morning and hear the news of my dog dying when I was a boy. Stories of losing animals are often emotional, but there are countless other stories in life where we face loss, difficulty, or failure. What is the saddest you have ever been? What has torn your heart in the past?
You might not like this email devotional at the moment and I don’t blame you! As Americans, we often pride ourselves on plowing forward, but often we do so to the extent of failing to ever properly mourn or even grasp our losses.
In the second sentence of the Sermon on the Mount (last week we looked at the first), Jesus says something that seems self-contradicting…
Blessed are those who mourn…
Remember the word “blessed” literally translates to “happy”. Happy are the sad is essentially what Jesus says. Why? Is this some kind of silver lining statement, like the person who tells someone who had a dog die that “all things happen for a reason” or “they are in a better place”?
No, Jesus does not do that. So what is He saying?
I mourned those two dogs because I understood what was happening. I understood the finality of the situation. If the dogs were merely going to take a nap and return to me then I would not have needed to mourn. It was if the soul was taking inventory and finding a deep deficit.
Last week we saw how Jesus said “blessed are the poor in spirit”, the “spiritually broken” are blessed. Why? Because it is when one realizes they are lost that they then understand they need to be found!
But what if you are unable to “undo” your spiritual brokenness? What if you and I stand guilty before God for all our sins and have no way to erase them? Can you imagine the sadness of such a moment? Jesus can, and you can see His parables often point to such devastation.
Imagine two men stranded on two separate isolated islands. One man, after recovering from the wreck that landed him there, sees his surroundings, realizes he is lost, and has no way of getting off the island. The other man recovers, sees the island, and rejoices that he is now king of this domain!
Which one will desperately look for rescue? Which one will have eyes fixed on the horizon in hopes of spotting a plane or passing boat?
The one who mourns his sad condition would be the one desperate for help. The other would reject anyone else’s arrival because it would threaten his kingdom!
When it comes to Amazing Grace (how sweet the sound), it is only truly amazing to us when we understand the actual despair we face without it. Blessed is the person who mourns their brokenness. Blessed is the one who cries out “have mercy on me, a sinner!”. Blessed is the one who surveys all they have accomplished (good, bad, and otherwise) and sees themselves wanting. Why?
In Luke 7, Jesus is dining with a Pharisee (imagine the man who thinks he is the king of his island) when a sinful woman (think of the one who realizes he is stranded) washes the feet of Jesus with her tears, kissed them, and wipes them clean with her hair. Jesus says…
Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.Luke 7:47 NIV
The more you and I understand the deep roots of sin in our lives, the more we see the brokenness of our own story, the more we will mourn it.
So why are the sad happy?
Jesus is indicating that something (Someone) is coming that can bring true comfort to the searching soul…
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.Matthew 5:4 NIV