If you abide in Me and My word abides in you, then you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.
Today, we continue our discussion of the Beattitudes. Last week we discussed “blessed are the poor in spirit” and discovered this was talking about being teachable. If you missed last week’s post, click here to read it before proceeding with today’s.
One thing we talked about last week is that the Beattitudes are progressive, which means we have to have the first one formed in us before we can develop the next one as a part of our nature. Once God has brought us to the point of being teachable, we are ready to proceed to number two.
In Matthew 5:4, we see the second attitude, as stated in the New American Standard Bible: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” This one used to confuse me.
Why should mourning be a desirable attribute? Does God want me to sit around crying and whining? No. That would be ridiculous, and yet that is what this seems to say. What’s up with this?
The Encarta dictionary defines “mourn” as a verb meaning to express sadness at somebody’s death or to express sadness at something lost. Webster defines it as meaning to feel or express grief or sorrow.
Okay . . . to express sadness or grief or sorrow about what? Why would Jesus put this in here? If something sad or traumatic happens to me, isn’t it natural for me to feel or express grief or sorrow or sadness? Of course. And doesn’t Jesus know me well enough to know what’s natural for me? Sure, He does. He wouldn’t be instructing me that I’d be blessed for mourning over something that happened to me.
He must be talking about mourning for someone else. Let’s look at His nature. He felt the pain of everybody. Not just His mother or His disciples, but everybody. A lot of His ministry was about His reaction to the trials and tribulations of those around Him. He felt their pain.
So maybe He’s telling us here that feeling the pain of others around us is a good quality. Maybe He wants us to be sensitive to the feelings of others. Empathetic with their needs.
But since we’re talking about attitudes of being, this doesn’t just mean we should be empathetic to some people part of the time. What He’s talking about here is that it should be a part of our nature to empathize with the concerns of others—to feel their pain—to be sensitive to their needs.
If I’m too puffed up with pride—too full of my own rightness—to be teachable, I’m not likely to care enough about others to feel this empathy. My thoughts will be too much on myself. Thus, God had to form “poor in spirit” within me before He could make it my nature to “mourn.”
As so often happens with God, when we come into line with His objectives, He has a bonus or reward for us. Our reward here is that when we become truly empathetic to others, He will comfort us in our own travails.
I hope this discussion has been meaningful to you and maybe shed a new light on the meaning of this verse for you.
David N. Walker is a Christian father and grandfather, a grounded pilot and a near-scratch golfer who had to give up the game because of shoulder problems. A graduate of Duke University, he spent 42 years as a health insurance agent. Most of that career was spent in Texas, but for a few years he traveled many other states. He started writing about 20 years ago, and has six unpublished novels to use as primers on how NOT to write fiction. He is currently putting the finishing touches on his non-fiction Web Wisdom: Godly Thoughts and Inspiration from the Inbox and starting his new fiction work—a series of novellas set during the period from 1860 to 1880.
Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet me at @davidnwalkertx