Sadness. Bereavement. Mourning a loss. These are all loaded terms that are used in our society and often seem to be terms that people spin in situations to make a loss not seem so bad or even better to have some higher purpose than the agony of the moment.
Even just mourning with a hope to cope with it may seem enough depending on the person. As a social worker I never work with my clients to deny a factual event that happens in their lives since that would be callous and insane on my part. However, if there is a sense of ascribing meaning to the event that could make it not dominate their identity then that is a win. If my clients can reframe how they see events then they could in theory change everything.
But then if you look at Jesus on grief, he is not just another social worker. He comes on the scene preaching a gospel of the kingdom. His kingdom has themes of a kingdom that is very communicative and relational.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
First, in centering on the mourning part, one can assume some things:
1-It is not “blessed are those who are bummed and hold it in”. To mourn in a way that makes you open to being comforted presupposes that you are willing to acknowledge that you need some comforting. You can hold it in….until you can’t.
2-As we see in the prior verse about being “poor in spirit for they shall inherit the kingdom of God” there needs to be some state of being receptive to a God you know is all powerful, all knowing and, because of what we know through Jesus of Nazareth, all loving.
But can’t God comfort those who are hurting but still holding onto their pride in a nuanced situation? Yes, He can but He doesn’t. Otherwise that sense of divine peace would be smothering and coercive.
So when God is doing the comforting, without it blowing our socks off, it is going to look like the integration of our selves so we are authentic and have a sense of meaning for what we were put on this earth for. “ to bind up the brokenhearted” (Isaiah 61:1) means to see those parts of the self that are scattered and not working together due to pain and defensiveness to be put back together. And that gets to happen in the sense of knowing He is God and we are not. The mission of Jesus is forgive sins and restore us to right relationship with Him.
Do we not wonder with all the evil of the world why God does not work miracles all the time so at least emotional pain does not last so long? If there were miracles coming moment to moment that were too obvious then the beauty of free will would not be there. Where would the repentance and the healthy dependence be?
Which brings me to another point with mourning and repentance. If one is mourning for the consequences of getting caught in their sin, they are not in the realm of the kingdom of Heaven. Instead they are in the realm of self-pity and plotting on how they can do their sin again but not violate the carnal rule of not getting caught. But to come to the end of ones self, like the prodigal son story, is to come back to the house of the Father who finds you alive.
“If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9). If your mourning is halfway in the kingdom for something you have done, remember that no one was created for shame. We are all created to shine light back to our Creator and everyone that is in our path. Whether you hurt because of what has been done to you or you have done to yourself, let the Comforter come.