Posts Tagged With: mourn

Seeking Comfort When Mourning (Matthew 5:4)

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4, New American Standard Bible).

Image created with YouBible app.

Several recent posts have looked at Matthew 5:4 from several angles. When we speak of “mourning,” we can refer to grief over suffering in the world, sorrow for our sins, or the bereavement we endure when we have lost a loved one.

Many people have suffered losses over the last two and a half years. COVID-19 has caused over six million deaths worldwide (over one million in the United States), in addition to the people who died of the illnesses we had before COVID. Suicide has been on the rise as well. Two of my uncles died, and then my mother passed away in November 2021. None of them died of COVID. I cannot help but think that Mom lost interest in living after her brother died, contributing to a rapid decline in health.

As bad as this would sound in ordinary times, I know families who have suffered more during the pandemic. Probably most of us have suffered grief during the age of COVID.

For those who are grieving, do not try to go through it alone. Find a compassionate brother or sister in Christ who will allow you to express your grief without judging. Perhaps you can talk to your pastor. You may also know a mature, caring church member who has a gift for showing mercy. Grief counseling might be necessary. No two grief experiences are identical, so find someone who will not say things like “You should not feel that way,” or “Well, when my mother died…, so you should too.” Just because one person’s grief followed a particular course does not mean it will be identical for you. (Grief experiences will be different even for one individual. My experiences were very different while grieving the deaths of my father, sister, and mother. Relationships, circumstances, and my spiritual condition were different every time.)

Photo courtesy of PxHere

If you are trying to comfort someone who is mourning, do not cut them off with a quick, “He/she was saved and is with Jesus now. Your loved one is in a better place.” Grief hurts, even when you are confident about your loved one’s salvation. It hurts even more if a believer has doubts about the deceased person’s spiritual condition. Too many Christians focus on the spiritual condition of the deceased person as an excuse to avoid the bereaved person’s feelings. Likewise, if you are in mourning, avoid seeking support and compassion from people who try to use the deceased person’s salvation as an excuse not to be sad.

One option worth considering is a ministry called Griefshare. This ministry is available at churches nationwide. Each meeting includes a video discussing different aspects of grief, followed by an opportunity to share your thoughts, feelings, and experiences in a nonjudgmental, confidential environment. You can learn more about Griefshare here and find a group near you here. Some groups meet online and others may meet in person. (This is not a paid advertisement or endorsement. I share this because I believe in the ministry.)

O merciful Father, who has taught us in Your holy Word that You do not willingly afflict or grieve the children of men: Look with pity upon the sorrows of Your servants for whom our prayers are offered. Remember them, O Lord, in mercy, nourish their souls with patience, comfort them with a sense of Your goodness, lift up Your countenance upon them, and give them peace; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Adapted from the Book of Common Prayer.)

Where have you found comfort and strength during times of grief? What advice would you have for someone who is grieving or for someone who is trying to comfort the bereaved? Share your thoughts, experiences, or suggestions by clicking the “Leave a comment” link below.

Copyright © 2022 Michael E. Lynch. All rights reserved.

Categories: Bible meditations, Sermon on the Mount | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Mourning Personal Sin as a Path to Comfort (Matthew 5:4; James 4:7-10)

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4; all Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible).

“Submit therefore to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be miserable and mourn and weep; let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you” (James 4:7-10).

Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount challenges us to live in a way that contradicts the world’s mindset. He calls His disciples to live paradoxically. Popular culture tells us to seek comfort. Modern Christians follow this mindset, but Jesus calls us to mourn. Like the world, though, we avoid sorrow.

A common response to grief and hard times.

As we saw in previous posts in this series, there are several types of mourning. An obvious one is the grief we experience in response to a significant personal loss, especially when a loved one dies. We may try to bottle it up and pretend everything is well. People expect us to “snap out of it” after a few days and get back to normal life, but grief takes time. Our inner world is chaotic, but we pretend that all is well.

Another form of grief is sorrow when we see evil or suffering in the world. We may mourn the war in Ukraine or the suffering caused by natural disasters. Still, we are often inclined to forget about it. It is easier to pay attention to celebrities’ foibles and fashions than to the pain suffered by strangers in other countries.

Finally, perhaps the grief and mourning Jesus most directly thought of is the mourning and sorrow for our own sins. We may want to ignore the pokes and proddings of conscience. Much modern Christianity ignores biblical teaching about confession and repentance.

We can try to avoid mourning, but it will not work. Reality has a way of catching up to us and overthrowing our feelings and self-delusions. A genuine relationship with Jesus is not always about positive thinking and good feelings. There is a time to mourn and a time to dance (Ecclesiastes 3:4). Repentance is necessary for a holy life and a strong relationship with God. This will bring times of sorrow.

Instead of repenting when sin comes to our attention, many of us make excuses or try to reconstruct the Bible to suit our desires. Last month, many Americans celebrated “Pride Month,” which celebrates homosexuality and other lifestyles that are condemned by the Bible. Proverbs 16:18 tells us that “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling.” Some Christians joined in, having reinterpreted Bible verses to suit their desires instead of accepting their plain meaning and historic church teaching. Unfortunately, we make that mistake with many sins. We prefer to justify our sins or make excuses for them. The response to any sin is confession and repentance, not self-justification or biblical reinterpretation.

Photo by form PxHere

James, the half-brother of Jesus, offers some guidance to move from sin to sorrow to joy. He begins by telling us to “Humble yourselves.” To begin the journey to repentance, we have to lay aside our pride. This applies to all sin, not only those that have adopted “pride” as a slogan. If we choose self-righteousness, we will continue to stumble and miss out on God’s perfect will for our lives.

James goes on: “Submit therefore to God.” Submission means we acknowledge that He is in charge and we accept His will, even when we do not understand it.

“Resist the devil.” Modern people choose not to believe in the devil. Many who call themselves Christians do not believe in him. However, Scripture tells us he is real. We should not ignore him. The devil is real. Sin is real. Evil is real. Believers in Jesus have authority over him in Jesus’ name, but we must resist him. We cannot be passive. He will not go away just because we pretend he is not around.

Resisting the devil and submitting to God go hand-in-hand. We cannot resist the devil or sin in our own strength. We must rely on God’s strength. We must submit to God, and then Satan will flee from us.

Cleanse your hands. Purify your hearts. Take a personal spiritual inventory. Spend time before God measuring your life against His Word and ask Him to cleanse and purify you. It might get uncomfortable. The Holy Spirit may point out attitudes and activities that lie at the root of your problems, which you think are harmless. Be prepared to meet your dark side.

God calls us to be single-minded and completely devoted to Him. There may be corners of your life that you have tried to hide from Him. He wants His best for you, but you may have to surrender some things to experience His blessing. However, when we give up those things that are holding us back, we find He has greater blessings available to us. We may begin by mourning our sins, grieving the sacrifices He calls us to make, and even wrestling with Him until it hurts (see Genesis 32:24-31). However, deliverance, spiritual maturity, and growth—comfort—await us when we yield to Him.

Image from YouVersion Bible app.

Mourning and weeping precede comfort and joy. Let us acknowledge our sins, confess them to God, and ask Him for the power to follow Him. Then, He will draw near to us, offer us His comfort, and empower us to speak words of comfort and faith into the lives of those around us.

Heavenly Father, we thank You for the gift of Your Son, Jesus Christ, who died so that we can live with You. Give us courage and strength to submit ourselves to You, confess our sins, repent, resist the evil within us and around us, and live so that we may glorify You and experience Your comfort, joy, and love. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

How have you been comforted and healed by Jesus? How have you comforted others in His name, or how can you do so in the days ahead? Share your thoughts, experiences, or suggestions by clicking the “Leave a comment” link below.

Copyright © 2022 Michael E. Lynch. All rights reserved.

Categories: Bible meditations, Sermon on the Mount | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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