Mournings Joy

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted" (Matthew 5:4).

I swatted at a persistent fly and dabbed a handkerchief to my forehead. The African sun beating on the corrugated iron roof of the public schoolroom baked my head and shoulders. Struggling to concentrate on the Bible lesson, I glanced at the desktop in front of me. Scratched among names and music notes, I found: "Tragic loss of Marley. He was the king of Music." Marley was unknown to me, but I felt sad.

Many of us have experienced a far greater loss than that of a music idol. When a loved one dies, sorrow crushes our spirits. Emotions flare out of control. The normality of daily living halts. Depression strikes. Our appetite goes awry, and salty tears of sorrow suddenly stream down our cheeks. Human comfort, even though it is a blessing, is not enough. But we can find joy again in the comfort of God.

Mourning is inward looking: we mourn our loss. Expressing our sorrow to God is outward looking. It brings comfort as we express our gratitude to Him for our departed loved one and for His presence in our future. Looking inward, we find only sorrow. Looking outward, we find security and satisfying solutions.

When we have a personal friendship with our Heavenly Father, we are never completely alone.

His presence bathes our spirits, soothes, and blesses. The Message paraphrases Psalm 9:9 this way: "GOD'S a safe-house for the battered, a sanctuary during bad times. The moment you arrive, you relax; you're never sorry you knocked."

Broken relationships can cause us sorrow, too. The Message paraphrases Matthew 5:4 this way, "You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you." God comforts our saddened hearts and fills them with joy.

We may also mourn a broken trust. We find that we are one of "those who know what sorrow means" (Matthew 5:4, Phillips). Losing confidence in a friend or relative can break our hearts. We grieve over the death of being able to believe in that person. We feel cut off from full communion with that individual.

When two or three of these kinds of sorrows come at the same time, our grieving is compounded. We find comfort only in a God who never dies, who said, "‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you'" (Hebrews 13:5). He is always faithful and can always be trusted. "So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" (Hebrews 13:6).

The Apostle Paul knew "the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God" (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). Our Heavenly Father is the source of mourning's joy.