I struggle a bit with the Beatitudes. Usually I find Jesus to be either very direct, or the master storyteller — giving analogies that are deceivingly simple, profoundly deep, and almost universally applicable. But the Beatitudes are not stories, and yet they are not very direct. I’ve read them over and over again, and I still get this nagging feeling like I’m missing the big picture. I mean, clearly, they are not prescriptive. Jesus is not recommending we “go mourn, so we can be blessed,” or “be poor in spirit, so the kingdom of heaven will be ours.”
So what is it that correlates mourning and blessing? I pondered this question this afternoon as I sat at a memorial service for an admirable young man who was being mourned by his wife, his mother, his siblings and friends. The service was bilingual – the Spanish speakers were translated into English and the English to Spanish. The translation gave me extra time to really ponder what was being said. The pain of loss is obviously the result of love. And this young bride was clearly crazy about her husband. But is that why she is blessed? Is she is blessed as a response to love, as a reward for risking the pain of loss?
I don’t think so. Instead I believe that those who mourn are blessed because Jesus identifies with them. In his earthly life, He mourned and suffered. In fact, since He loved so deeply, He knew tremendous heartache. (John 11). Thankfully the Bible acknowledges the heavy-hearted, outlining as part of Jesus’ mission to bind up the brokenhearted. (Luke 4). I’m so grateful that, as followers of Christ, we are not expected to take our burdens to some impersonal universal force or a heartless yet mighty creator. Instead, we are given the privilege of sharing our deepest hurts with a Savior who knows all about heartache, and who loves each of us with an unbounded love.
Will you pray for this beautiful young woman who lost her husband? Will you pray that she trusts God’s plan for her life, even though she may never understand it? Will you also pray that Jesus is a great comfort to her in the long days to come and that she will cling to the promise that this isn’t all there is?
Heaven will provide eternal comfort and protection from all mourning. Yet as followers of Jesus Christ, we should transmit a hint of the kingdom now. The sweet and inviting fragrance of faith, hope, love, peace and joy should mark our lives. In fact, the way we live should illustrate the truth of the beatitudes. So that leaves us with a very important question — one we can ask ourselves daily. How can I bless and comfort those who mourn?