Summary: A proper mourning over sin will drive us to repentance and confession and will ultimately bring God's comfort.
How To Receive God’s Comfort
In Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations, the story is told of Pip, an orphan who lives with his sister and her husband. One day while in the marshes, he meets a convict who forces him to steal food and a file from some people. The convict is almost immediately recaptured and a wealthy elderly recluse named Miss Havisham hires Pip as a playmate for her adopted daughter, Estella. When Jaggers, a lawyer, tells Pip that money is being given to him and that he has “great expectations,” he assumes Miss Havisham is his benefactor.
In London, Pip learns manners from Herbert Pocket, his roommate and a relative of Miss Havisham’s. Here Pip also begins his education. All this time, her persuades himself that Miss Havisham is preparing him to marry Estella.
One stormy evening when Pip was 23, a stranger appears at his door, and he is shocked to find out it is the convict. He is further horrified to learn that he has been his benefactor not Miss Havisham. He is further disappointed to learn that Estella is to marry someone else and not him. She was the love of his life. Pip was in need of comfort.
The psalmist expressed his desire for comfort after a disappointing time in his life when he wrote; “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! For then I would fly away, and be at rest. Lo, then I would wander off, and remain in the wilderness. I would hasten my escape from the windy storm and tempest.” (Psalm 55:6)
We have all been introduced to times of disappointment in our life. In this one verse, however, Jesus tells us how we can be comforted and attain true happiness. Again it is a paradox, for he says that those who mourn will find comfort and happiness.
The previous verse introduced us to the first rung on the ladder of true happiness. To be poor in spirit, or to recognize our need for God, is the basic foundation, but on that we must build this idea of mourning.
All of us have needed comfort at some point in our life. Perhaps there have been times when we would have liked to call time-out, but we can’t. Life continues in the midst of disappointments, trials and failures. Since we cannot call time out, we must find a way to find happiness in the midst of our circumstances.
There is no greater comfort a person can receive than the comfort of God. Jesus says that comfort will come when we mourn, so let’s see what he means by that.
MOURN FOR OTHERS
The unusual thing about Christ’s statement is that the comfort of God is linked to mourning. Beyond that, happiness is linked to being sad. In essence, Jesus says that if we want to be happy we must be sad. When we are sad, then God will comfort us.
Everything that we have ever been taught or heard contradicts this. Edward Young, the English poet, said, “Tis impious in a good man to be sad.” The lyrics of one song asked, “What’s the use of worrying? It never was worthwhile. So pack up your troubles in your old kit bag and smile, smile, smile.”
The parallel passage in Luke states, “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.” (Luke 6:21) Dr. D. Martin Lloyd-Jones said, “This saying condemns the apparent laughter, joviality, and happiness of the world by pronouncing a woe upon it. But it promises blessing and happiness, joy and peace to those who mourn.”
Just as when Jesus said that the poor were happy he was not speaking literally of a destitute person, so here there is also a spiritual concept involved. We can begin to define Jesus’ conception of mourning by defining what he does not mean. He does not refer to improper mourning. This is feeling sorry or sad for those whose evil plans have gone astray. Our world is filled with wickedness and wicked people who are always devising some evil plan. Many of their plans succeed, but fortunately many of them also fail. For us to feel sad when such evil plans fail is improper mourning, for then we are feeling remorse for those who have misguided loyalties and affections.
Amnon, one of King David’s sons, offers a good example of improper mourning. Absalom, another of David’s sons, had a sister named Tamar who was very beautiful. Amnon fell in love with her. She was a virgin, and the love that Amnon had for her turned into lust and passion. It became so great that it made him sick. The Bible says, “Amnon was so distressed over his sister Tamar that he became sick; for she was a virgin. And it was improper for Amnon to do anything to her.” (II Samuel 13:2)