Summary: I believe that God exists, that I matter to him, and that gives me hope... hope that the God of all comfort and hope can help be become a more Christ like person.
Title: The Hope Choice
Text: Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Matthew 5:4
Thesis: I believe that God exists, that I matter to Him, and that gives me hope… hope that I can become a better person.
Lenten Series: Life’s Healing Choices (Saddleback Resources)
William Barclay stated in his Commentary on Matthew that the word “mourn” as used in our text is the strongest word in the Greek language for mourning. He said that the mourning Jesus spoke of in Matthew 5:4 is the passionate sorrow he have when someone we deeply love has died. This kind of mourning is so intense that it cannot be hidden. It is an unrestrainable sadness.
We can understand this to literally refer to any kind of grief that translates into mourning. I remember when I received the call that my dad had passed away, I went into our bedroom, closed the door and fell onto the bed sobbing out great sounds of grief and loss.
We may also understand mourning to refer the deep sorrow we may feel in the face of the suffering and sadness of the world…
And it is also a deep sadness or mourning we associate with the remorse and regret we may feel over our own sinfulness and failures. The deep regret we feel knowing we have disobeyed God, done damage to others and demeaned ourselves. It is the sorrow we may feel knowing we have blown it again.
Interestingly enough… most of us do not enjoy being sad. We try to not place ourselves in the way of sorrow and suffering. We try to avoid being in a state of mourning. We like the advice of Petulla Clark in her song “Down Town.”
“When you’re alone and life is making you lonely, you can always go downtown. The lights are much brighter there you can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares and go downtown. Things will be great when you’re downtown.”
And so we find a myriad of ways to escape the sadness of our hurts, hang-ups, habits and the things that haunt us. So we may gamble, self-medicate, over-indulge, go shopping, work more, sleep, have another chocolate or whatever it is we do to comfort ourselves and feel better.
But Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” The person who finds himself or herself in a place of deep sadness and sorrow is also in a place of grace where God can bring comfort to the broken hearted. But there is a problem.
Most people, who find themselves in a state of trouble or sadness or grief do not readily turn to God to comfort. We do what we need to do to take our minds off of whatever it is that is eating us.
Mostly we just do our best to cover it all up… Have you ever seen how they make a three layer cake? You bake three cakes and you take the three cakes out of the cake pans. So then you have three sorry looking cakes in various stages of disrepair. But you lather one up with frosting and then you add the second layer cake and you apply frosting to that cake and then you add the third cake and once again apply a liberal coating of frosting and walla! You’ve made three sorry looking cakes look like one pretty decent cake.
Rather than spend our lives covering up what ails us, perhaps we might see that things do not have to be as they are.
If we really want to be better people and feel better about who we are the place to begin is with God.
I. It is imperative that we see God as God really is.
“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all of our troubles…” II Corinthians 1:3-4
Our images of God…
A. Is God a God of condemnation?
Puritan preacher, Jonathan Edwards preached a sermon in Enfield, Connecticut on July 8, 1741 titled, “Sinners In the Hands of an Angry God.”
The thesis of the sermon is: There is nothing that keeps wicked men at any one moment out of hell, but the mere pleasure [good will] of God.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God)
Among the points Edwards made in his sermon are:
“God may cast wicked men into hell at any given moment. The wicked, at this very moment, suffer the torments of hell. The wicked must not think, simply, because they are not physically in hell, God is at this very moment as angry with them as he is with those miserable creatures he is now tormenting in hell, who at this very moment feel and bear the fierceness of his wrath.”