Blessed Are Those Who Mourn

Written by Rhonda Alstott

Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted…

 

The Alstott Household has had a pretty traumatic week. In the span of 5 days our most loving dog, Jack, was diagnosed with cancer and declined to the point he went blind, could not walk, and could not eat. We lovingly let him go on Wednesday late afternoon after being showered with affection by everyone all afternoon. My household has sobbed all week. In the background on the TV while we were loving him that Wednesday, the investigative findings and charges were being released in the local Breonna Taylor case. The protestor’s sobs synced with our own. It snapped Tony and me into the realization that grief over a dog pales in comparison to grief experienced over losing a child. In the quiet space of being alone that night we recounted how hard it has been to watch our friends and loved ones bury those that are so loved. It’s a hard part of ministry to do a funeral for a baby or a 5 year old. The losses we’ve experienced coupled with the losses we have witnessed remind us that all this pain and suffering is temporary, but excruciating nonetheless.

 

I am leading a ten week study on the Beatitudes right now and in my sometimes narcissistic view that a scripture was written with me in mind, I open my first lesson and Bible to Matthew 5…

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted”

Matthew 5:3-4

My mind was certain that God would heal my great sorrow by digging into these scriptures. But that is not where His Spirit led me.

 

So often we take pieces of scripture and use them to fit the narrative we want as the backdrop of our personal life. The method I use to study is called the inductive method. Context is important, original meaning is important and all the digging I do cannot lead me to fit these two verses to mean what I want them to mean…no amount of digging can lead me to feel comforted because these scriptures mean nothing of what I’ve always thought. The context isn’t death… the context is sin. The context is realizing your spiritual destitution (poor in spirit) and mourning about your sinful condition. This aligns with an Old Testament scripture I see quoted a lot these days:

 

“If I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or if I command the locust to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among My people, and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:13-14

 

My desire is to be comforted, my desire is healing. That’s what I want. I want my life to travel in a linear path at an upward trajectory with no bumps in the road. I have not considered the medicine God wants me to take:

 

God wants me, in humility, to recognize I’m spiritually bankrupt without Him. I’m poor in spirit because of this. I’m sick about this. I mourn about this and I take responsibility and repent for the sin in my life. Then I can be part of the kingdom of heaven. Then I am comforted.

 

We want the healing, but we don’t want to say we are sorry for our sin.

We lack humility when it comes to this.

 

Tony has preached on personal holiness a lot these past few weeks. He’s also preached on community holiness. Both are important. Both are the work of sanctification by the Holy Spirit and sadly both are lacking in so many of our personal and church lives. We tend to accept Christ for our salvation, but are not sure we want him to be Lord of our kingdom. But what if we did? What if we started asking the Spirit to show us the parts of our thoughts, motives and actions that we need to be repentant for? Maybe instead of looking down on others in our current political and social climate we could ask: “Jesus show me where I am failing to live out my faith and reflect the truth of the gospel. Show me where I fall short, show me where I need to think differently, show me where I need to put love into action…” How transformative could this be than judging from the sidelines?

 

Maybe my mourning over the loss of my dog should take a back seat to the loss of all life. Maybe I haven’t cared about the sacredness and gift of life more. Maybe I should mourn for the unborn more. Maybe I should mourn for the addict losing their battle with drugs more and yes, maybe I should mourn about the life taken of a 26 year old shot in her apartment in Louisville more. Have I cared too little about life because my life has been unaffected? Maybe I should care more about what God says in the Bible than a news network. Maybe it’s your Spirit I should listen to instead of an author who aligns with my political party. After all, the gospel isn’t for one or the other political parties, it’s for all people in all nations. And maybe, just maybe, I should care more about pointing someone to you, our true King and Savior, instead of trying to persuade them to vote how I think they should vote. And maybe I should put aside my self-interest for the interest of your kingdom, your ways and your glory. And maybe, just maybe, others will join me in caring more and being sorry for our personal and community sins…

Maybe then you will hear and heal our land.

Healing will not happen without repentance.

Come Lord Jesus


^