4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
I have read many commentaries and opinions about what this verse really means. I believe this verse is best explained by what we read in Joel 2:
12 “Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “Return to Me with all your heart, And with fasting, weeping and mourning; 13 And rend your heart and not your garments.” Now return to the LORD your God, For He is gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness And relenting of evil.
These tears are a result of repentance. We mourn from the heart when we recognize our own iniquity. The previous verse talked about us being poor in spirit and recognizing our need for God. When this happens, we cry like a baby because we not only recognize our need of Him, but also that we have gone this long full of pride thinking we didn’t. Our lamenting is also a result of us realizing that we aren’t the only ones with this problem, but the whole world. We weep as Jesus wept. We hurt for ourselves and others the way God hurts for us. Finally, maybe for the first time ever, we are seeing things the way God sees them. We also recognize how amazing His grace really is!
By understanding our spiritual depravity, we are hit in the face with and ultimate reality: we’ve been doing it wrong this whole time. The wedding song of my wife and I is Bless the Broken Road by Rascall Flats. The part I love the most is when they sing, “I’d like to take the years I’ve lost and give them back to you.” It’s a sense of lamenting that all this time we have been making mistakes and going down the wrong paths. We have dedicated ourselves to the unholy and wicked and in retrospect we wish we could invest it in our true love. There is love and grace in the next verse: “but you just smile and take my hand, you’ve been there you understand.” This is the very love that God pours out upon us once we reach this point in our spiritual walk. Jesus walked in our shoes, He knows the difficulties we face in this life and He understands how we feel. These are the first steps in our relationship with God and they are the most important.
The beatitudes seem to be in a specific order; they build upon each other as we read them. This is why we are studying them one point at a time because it is important that we walk up the ladder one rung at a time. If we skip one or two, we could hurt ourselves or fall and have to start all over again! The beauty of it all is that even though none of us like to cry, Jesus promises us that once we reach this point we will be comforted. We don’t want to come to a point where we lament and cry and have regret over our past, but this is where He wants us to be so He can comfort us and we can grow and move beyond it. It’s the tears of our lamenting that waters the new seed He has planted in our hearts. So, Jesus is saying, “you will cry, but you will be comforted.” This helps us seek this more, doesn’t it? It lets us know we will not be alone when we get to this point.
Another viewpoint on this verse, which is a long-term vision, is those who cry for others because of their spiritual depravity. When God transforms our heart, we begin to see things the way He does and we too begin to feel sad for those who don’t have the hope we have. God says, “don’t worry, there will be a day when you don’t have to feel that way for them because I’m going to fix the situation.” Jeremy Camp sings an awesome song about this that brings me to tears…how ironic is that? We cannot be dismayed by those who yet have not come to know Christ because through us He is working to introduce Himself to them. This yearning and passion for the unreached is something He plants in us to motivate us to share His love with others.
Lamenting is generally not something we ever strive for, but it is necessary in our spiritual life for us to grow. We cannot recognize our spiritual depravity until we get to this point. We might be able to acknowledge it because of something we have read or something someone has told us, but it will not hit us on a deep personal level until our eyes are opened enough to the point of bringing us to tears. I’ve explained it in Celebrate Recovery as the process of digging a hole. We talk about how we generally have to hit “rock bottom” before we are motivated enough to change. Another way it is explained is that the pain of our afflictions has to outweigh the fear we have of changing before we do what is necessary to change. We find ourselves digging a hole but in the beginning we can recognize that it isn’t too deep yet and we can still get out of it if things get too dangerous or painful. We keep digging and eventually we get to a point where we can’t get out without the help of someone else. Our friends and family are standing around the edge yelling down and throwing ropes to help us out but we keep digging just a little more. Finally we get to the point where the hole is so deep we are living in darkness. Our friends and family up top have left us because we have ignored their advice and offerings for help and they can no longer help us out of the hole we made for ourselves. Now we are so deep there is no hope. We finally look up and the only one there who can and will help us is God. This is when we realize the depth of our spiritual depravity and through our tears God will pull us out.
How far deep have you dug yourself?