Session #027 Good Mourning!
Scripture Matthew 5:4
Summary What’s so good about mourning? Understandably, mourning is not what we look forward to. And yet, in Matt 5:4, Jesus declares that those who mourn are considered blessed because of the comfort they shall receive. Henson answers two important questions, “Why do we mourn?” and “How do we mourn?” Having the right perspectives will enable us to suffer well that we may be rightly positioned to enjoy the blessedness of the kingdom!
Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. Matthew 5:4
Good Mourning? Truly, what’s so good about mourning? Understandably mourning is not what we look forward to. In this teaching, two important questions are addressed: “Why do we mourn?” and “How do we mourn?” Having the right perspectives will enable us to suffer well that we may be rightly positioned to enjoy the blessedness of the kingdom.
What is a good mourning? The Greek word for mourn is pentheo. It means to mourn, lament, weep or wail loudly. It is also associated with the nouns penthos (suffering, grief, sadness) and pathos (passion, desire/lust). Passion is actually derived from the Latin word for suffering. When we are passionate about something, we are willing to suffer for it.
In Matthew 5:4, Jesus declares that those who mourn are considered blessed because of the comfort they shall receive. We see parallel verses in Luke 6:21b and Luke 6:25b. However, it is natural that many will find this hard to believe; that there can be good mourning that comes with blessedness from it. And yet, this is exactly what Jesus proclaimed in this beatitude.
As with the first beatitude, this is also not a new concept but one rooted in the Old Testament (Isaiah 61:1-3). In this beatitude, Jesus declares His identity as the Messiah who has come for those who mourn, to bring comfort and consolation. We see God’s heart for the weak, oppressed and afflicted and His expectation that His people have the same heart and concern for them.
Are our hearts aligned with God’s heart? Instead of focusing on ourselves, are we sensitive to the many who are suffering and mourning? But, before we can help others understand the blessedness of suffering and mourning, we ourselves need to be clear about this teaching first.
2 important questions are considered next: ‘‘Why do we mourn?” and “How do we mourn?” As we understand these, our hearts will be opened to the blessedness that comes with good mourning.
Why Do We Mourn?
Suffering and Loss
We live in a fallen world. A consequence of the fall is that we will experience pain and death across all aspects of life including the death of loved ones, sickness etc. This is the cause of suffering and we grieve because of it.
There are two types of suffering because of humanity’s fall fallen humanity:
- Just Suffering – suffering that we deserve as we brought it upon ourselves as a consequence of our personal sin, decision or action. For example, gambling, laziness, greed, pride, glutton, anger, etc.
- Unjust Suffering – suffering as a consequence of another’s sin, decision or action. For example, an unfaithful husband, rebellious children, abusive parents, bullying, persecution, betrayal, etc. Joseph and Jesus are examples in the Bible.
We may also suffer due to spiritual warfare as we are at war. That is why we have been issued with weapons of warfare (Ephesians 6:10-18, 2 Corinthians 10:3-6).
Do we mourn for our own sin? Are our sins grievous to us? Most of us tend to see ourselves as alright compared to others. However, when we come into the presence of God, we will see ourselves for who we are and grieve as in Isaiah 6:5: “Woe is me, for I am undone. Because I am a man of unclean lips.” Do we grieve at the way we chase after the world? James was addressing this in James 4:1-18, about the worldliness, pride, covetousness and double-mindedness of the Christians; saying that they should lament and mourn and weep.
Good mourning is when we recognize our sin that we are wrong and we repent and ask the Lord to help us turn and change. Until we acknowledge our sin, there is no brokenness and there is no mourning. Then what kind of blessing do we have?
Corporate Sin and Loss
In the last part of Isaiah 6:5: “And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips”, Isaiah was saying that, besides him, everyone else had unclean lips. We see that when the prophets in the Old Testament touched the heart of God and understood what hurt God, it broke them. For example, Jeremiah the weeping prophet was lamenting over the sins of the people and crying for them to return to the Lord in his book, Lamentations. Though God asked Jeremiah to take up a lamentation, He told him to stop mourning after a certain time as He won’t answer him even if he prays (Jeremiah 7,16,16:5). God’s grace is amazing but there will come a time when God says that is enough.
Should we mourn for the Body of Jesus Christ today? For example:
- False prophets and deception
- Persecution of Christians
- Worldliness of worship, biblical illiteracy, Laodicean lukewarmness
- Apathy of believers, slumber of the saints.
Should we mourn when we look at the plight of the world today, the evil, deception, lies, corruption all for the sake of greed and money? Because of these, many are oppressed and afflicted e.g., human, sex and child trafficking. Do these things concern us? We mourn for personal loss and suffering but we also need to see that we are a part of the world and mourn, cry and petition to the Lord for the world.
How Do We Mourn: Good Mourning or Bad Moaning?
As we understand the cause of suffering, whether it is just, unjust etc, we must understand: how do we mourn? There is a right way to mourn and a wrong way to mourn and we want to wake up to a good mourning, not a bad moaning.
Bad moaning usually involves murmuring, complaining and griping. It is a natural reaction for most of us but it is ineffectual as we do not learn anything from it. Ineffectual suffering is “when you complain all the time, get angry with God for letting it happen, blame everybody around you, neglect what God might be saying to you in it and try to get it over with as soon as possible” (R.T. Kendall).
Someone asked C.S. Lewis, “Why do the righteous suffer?” “Why not?” he replied, “They’re the only ones who can take it.” We need to learn how to suffer well, to allow the situation to have God’s desired effect upon us, such as:
- Patience, perfection and completion, lacking nothing (James 1:2-4)
- Refinement, perfection, genuineness of faith, the salvation of souls (1 Peter 1:6-7)
- Perseverance, character, hope (Romans 5:1-5)
Those who mourn well, should also realize that there is a time and season to mourn or grieve before healing and release comes (Ecclesiastes 3:1and 4). In the dark night of the soul, when God seems silent and far; we mourn, weep and cry “How long?”. It drives us to the Lord and keeps our eyes on Him. That is where the blessing is found because He is the blessing.
Some questions to guide us in suffering well:
- What can I learn about God? What needs to be realigned?
- What can I learn about myself? What needs to change?
- What can I learn about others? What can’t I change?
- What can I learn about the situation? How am I to respond?
The Blessing of God’s Comfort
In Matthew 5:4, God promises that those who mourn shall be comforted (parakaleo in Greek). The word ‘parakaleo’ means to help, aid, counsel, guide, support or advocate, to make a case on our behalf, to encourage. From this word, we also have the word ‘parakletos’- the word used by Jesus to describe the Holy Spirit. In the book of John, it is recorded that Jesus said that He will go and the Father will send the Helper, the Holy Spirit to us. Besides being our Helper, the Holy Spirit is also our Comforter and Advocate (John 14:16, 14:26, 15:26).
We note that the tense for ‘parakleos’ is passive i.e., the comfort is to be received, outside of ourselves. We need to learn to receive this comfort from God by His Holy Spirit and His Word. Through it all, we experience His grace, love and faithfulness. We also receive comfort from the
Body of Christ, the people of God. Our suffering and experience also work in us for someone else, that we may be able to sympathise, empathize and encourage others in the same situation subsequently (2 Corinthians 1:3-7).
We also look to the future hope that does not disappoint, a millennial kingdom and future deliverance from evil and sin, and are further comforted (Revelation 21:4, John 16:20-22). Furthermore, glory, anointing and suffering go together. The greater the suffering, the greater the anointing and the greater the anointing, the greater the suffering (1 Peter 4:14; Romans 8:16-19; 2 Corinthians 4:16-18). Charles Spurgeon wrote that “It is no mean thing to be chosen of God. God’s choice makes chosen men choice men…We are chosen, not in the palace, but in the furnace (Isaiah 48:10). In the furnace, beauty is marred, fashion is destroyed, strength is melted, glory is consumed, yet here eternal love reveals its secrets, and declares its choice.”
We have to learn to suffer well so that we can see and receive the blessedness of the kingdom in its fullness. This blessedness is found in God’s comfort, sustaining us for today and giving us hope for tomorrow. In it, we discover Him and know Him more. We draw near to Him as He draws near to us. Then even on the worst of days, it will be a Good Mourning, one that God will turn into joy and dancing in His time. (Psalm 30:10-12)