“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4
We continue focusing on the Beatitudes, wherein Jesus outlined eight circumstances of blessedness for believers. (Matthew 5:3-12)
Violence, destruction, debilitation, death often produce tragic loss. Universally, people mourn loss. Bible scenes of mourning depict people ripping their garments, placing ashes on their heads, or wearing burlap-like sackcloth. During travels to Israel, I learned of another long-ago custom of mourners: they stored tears in small bottles. In fact, tourists visiting Jerusalem can purchase replica tear bottles like those from antiquity.
Plaintively, in Psalm 56:8 David seeks God’s help and comfort. And, he refers to a tear bottle: “You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?” Evidence of David’s tearful supplication is preserved in God’s symbolic tear bottle. David is comforted in knowing that God compassionately regards him and keeps an account of his pleas for help.
Today’s Beatitude about those who mourn also encompasses the profound mourning of believers who grieve about personal sin, along with sin’s destructive effect on their lives. Moreover, because of its heinous nature, Christians share a corporate grief in lamenting sin’s widespread defilement and debasement of humanity in ages past, present, and future.
Referring to debased people, the Apostle Paul in Romans 1:29-32, says: “They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.”
However, we gratefully embrace Jesus’ message: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17) Jesus has rescued us by bearing on the cross the penalty for our sins—and by blessing us with God’s righteousness.
We find that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come.” (2 Corinthians 5:17) Paul also pleads: “We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him [Jesus] to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20-21)
Thank you, “God of all comfort” who “will wipe away every tear.” Through Jesus, you have sent the Holy Spirit, the “Comforter,” to nurture us. You comfort us through your Word. Indeed, “This is my comfort in my affliction: for your word has given me life.” (Psalm 119:50, NKJV) Praise God!
Kay Henry is a columnist for the Claremore Progress. All Bible quotations are from “The Holy Bible, English Standard Version” (ESV), unless otherwise noted.