Blessed Are Those Who Mourn
I always struggle the most with how I should begin. So this time, I am beginning with the end.
“After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow on earth or sea or against any tree. Then I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm earth and sea, saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.”” – Revelation 7.1-3
The enemy has had its way within the body of Christ. He has whispered a lie into the ear which mocks the heart of God. “Thou shalt not be sad,” he says. “There must be something the matter with you. If God truly loved you, you would be happy always.”
Perhaps we haven’t fully bought into this lie but it has damaged us. In my early years, my perception was, if I accepted the forgiveness of Christ and followed his wisdom, life would go well for me. This perception, not quite fully acknowledged, led my heart to become hard. I was not getting the point. Elements of scripture that fit this idea I would embrace but the whole was disjointed and I would overlook the parts that never fit.
This hardness of heart was most evident when the sorrow, brokenness and pain of the earth were brought before me, and all I would say was, “I cannot carry the burdens of the whole world,” and turn back and retreat to my own universe. The statement may have been true, but my response was an absolute failure. A failure to accurately see my calling and mission.
Within the gospel of Matthew, Jesus gives his sermon on the mount at the beginning of his ministry and announcement of the Kingdom of Heaven. The message of that sermon is an absolute shock to the system. Kingdoms of earth gain entry through deception, corruption and violence. Jesus is boldly saying the Kingdom of Heaven is entirely other.
“And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying:
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
“Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
In turning my back on the world I was identifying myself as a citizen of earthly kingdoms by my action. I did not resemble a citizen of heaven whatsoever. But if the statement is true, that I cannot carry the burdens of the whole world, what am I called to instead?
It is a jarring reality to see that despite the fact that Jesus had a perfect union with the Father and that he knew the perfections and joys that were yet to come, he mourned an awful lot. (John 11.5, Matthew 23.37, Luke 22.44, Mark 15.34) The state of the world around him moved him so much despite his knowing that salvation, renewal and regeneration were to be a new reality. It has become evident to me that as the bride-in-waiting, caught between the ages, our calling is one of great grief. We should not turn from the world in its agony, but should bear the burden of grief. If the Spirit is active within us, our hearts will be as hearts of flesh, that break continually for all that endures suffering. If all creation is groaning in anticipation of its freedom in glory how much more should we? We who claim to be the climax of all creation? (Romans 8.19) If we don’t mourn, is this a sign that we don’t know that for which we hope? For it is in the light of what will be, that the present age shows its great tragedy.
In reading Ezekiel, I came across this,
“And the LORD said to him, “Pass through the city, through Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in it.” And to the others he said in my hearing, “Pass through the city after him, and strike. Your eye shall not spare, and you shall show no pity. Kill old men outright, young men and maidens, little children and women, but touch no one on whom is the mark. And begin at my sanctuary.”” – Ezekiel 9.4-6
They were marked by their mourning. May we who claim citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven bear the marks of our belonging and grieve as we are called.