Grieving to Joy
Matthew 5: 4
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
There is a true story (and this one really is true) of an American minister in the late Victorian days who was in Glasgow awaiting his ship to take him back home. As he walked round the poorer areas of the city, one day he came upon a group of children playing funerals (sadly of course in those days children would witness a lot of funerals). There was quite a parade, four boys playing the horses pulled on ropes attached to an old pram chassis on which lay a young girl in a white nightie with a bunch of daisies and dandelions in her hand, behind her walked several more children in pairs most of them weeping and wailing. The minister decided to play along, and as the procession drew near to him he stood at the kerb, took off his hat and bowed his head. He looked up just for a moment as the first boy was passing smiling at him he asked “Was the lady very old?” The boy gave him a long look before shrugging his shoulders saying “How would I ken I’m jist a horse!”
I know how often those who mourn are comforted by the sure and certain knowledge of the resurrection to eternal life that their loved ones are now free to enjoy.
The word used in the Greek here is for the deepest most profound sense of grief the same word that is used to describe Jacob’s grief when his sons tell him that Joseph is dead.
Some have said this verse means to be desperately sorry for the way the World is. But against that the Christian message is not to sit around grieving, that the world is full of sadness but to get up and do something about it! As the saying goes ‘Don’t sit and curse the dark, light a candle’.
There is a third and probably more accurate interpretation of this verse, namely, Blessed is the one who is desperately sorry for their own sin and unworthiness. We cannot hope for forgiveness unless we own our sin and wrongdoing, and if we were to take it all on board ourselves the burden would surely overwhelm us. That is where the Blessing comes in, for God not only forgives but also lifts that burden from us, so we may go forward serving him in freedom and love.
Lord God our loving Father in Heaven, we confess our failings. The times we have done those things which bring us shame and you no honour, whether by omission or deliberate fault but Lord in our brokenness we call out that you might make us whole once more. Lord forgive us by your love.
In your Mercy hear our prayer,