God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.Matthew 5:7 (NLT)
I have always read this passage with hints of calling hours and funerals. It wasn't until a few years ago that my friend David pointed out that mourning isn't solely related death. Sometimes, we mourn loss, change, and even the non-change in our lives.
I think of a person who discovers their position has been down-sized due to a turn in the economy. It's a position they've loved for 25 years and now they mourn the sudden change that comes into their lives. It impacts their income, their retirement plans, where they live and what they do next. Somehow, Jesus thinks these folks are blessed.
I think of the mother who's teen daughter spends the afternoon sulking and pouting, and the evenings locked away in her room. Any shared interests they had when she was younger have been replaced with isolation and hostility. Jesus says this woman is blessed.
I ponder the grandmother who no longer receives visits from her family. They've moved across the country to pursue their careers, only coming home on the rare holiday. She's seen her grandchildren five times in their short lives. They don't even know her. But Jesus declares this woman is blessed.
The Kingdom of Heaven, here on earth, doesn't really make sense, does it? Of course, there can always be a "silver lining" to any cloud, but that isn't what Jesus is talking about here. He isn't saying that those who experience loss need to look for the bright side of life. Jesus is pointing out that those who mourn, those who's lives are turned up-side-down, have hope because their focus isn't on the circumstance. Their strength doesn't come from the people around them, the job they hold, or the money in the bank. When the followers of Jesus have their focus on the Kingdom, all other things dim in comparison.
The truth is, we will ALL face times in our life when we mourn. Jesus never says to "buck up". Rub some dirt on it and move on.
Instead, our hearts can be heavy with grief and doubt. It's part of life. But our eyes see beyond the pain to the Giver of Life. In the midst of the mourning, we experience comfort. In the middle of the loss, we have a greater gift.
Let me put it this way; when I was a boy, I remember falling down on the gravel drive, tearing my pants and skinning my knees. I entered the house with tears streaming down my face and blood soaking my jeans. I sought comfort. I needed my mom. She lifted me onto her lap and comforted me. She soothed my sobs and dried my tears. She cleaned my wounds and applied bandages to my knees. Later she patched my torn trousers. She didn't blame me, tell me it was my fault because I was too rambunctious. She never told me to dry it up. "I'll give you something to cry about," were never words on her lips.
When we mourn, Jesus comforts us, as a mother holds her child. That is the Kingdom of Heaven, and I'm reassured me every time.