Summary: Jesus teaches us the value of mourning.
My dad’s parents lived in a very old house. It was a small house, just two bedrooms. They had seven children and 18 grandchildren. When the kids were all grown and moved out, Grandma and Grandpa moved into a tiny house.
There was not room for much more than two people. Large groups just could visit, but not for very long. I think there was a message in there.
That old house had solid wooden doors. Not like the hollow doors in my house – these were old, painted, solid, heavy wood.
When I was just a little boy, I went out onto the back porch. Grandma said, "Close that door, honey." I must not have been tall enough to reach the door knob because I wrapped my little fingers around the edge of the door and started to pull.
That big door started to move fast and it was all I could do to stay out of the way to keep from being knocked down. I was so busy moving, I forgot to move my fingers.
Looking back, I wish my whole hand had been slammed in that big, heavy door. Instead, just the tip of that middle finger that sticks out beyond the others got pinched.
I wailed and cried. And grandma held me on her lap. Grandma’s lap helped ease the pain. But she could not keep that fingernail from turning black.
We all have experienced pain. It may have been minor pain, such as hitting your thumb with a hammer. It may have been intense pain.
Perhaps you have been through the trauma of being fired from a job or endured a divorce.
Perhaps someone you love very much has a serious illness or has died. Some of you, as you sit here this morning, are in more pain than I have ever experienced.
Sometimes we bring the pain on ourselves, like I did when I shut my hand in the door. Through our own carelessness or outright stupidity we injure ourselves. Sometimes we are hurt by others.
And sometimes, we have pain inflicted on us simply because pain is part of life. Disease, cancer, auto accidents, migraines, arthritis, insomnia. Maybe even depression
Pain is, to say the least, unpleasant. And we would all like to keep it out of our lives. If nothing else, we would like to postpone it.
We would all like to procrastinate, postpone, put off anything that is uncomfortable. Pain, grief, suffering - anything unpleasant. We would like for it to wait. It is never convenient. We always ask, "Why now?" In fact, we would rather not suffer at all.
That makes the statement of Jesus in Matthew 5:4 very hard to understand.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Last Sunday we took a very brief look at this word "blessed" and learned that it means happy. It communicates a state of being that is satisfied and well content.
So it seems backward to us that Jesus would say, "You are truly happy when you mourn."
That sounds like an oxymoron. An oxymoron is two words put together that are exact opposites. Some examples might be: military intelligence, government organization, airline food, child proof.
And this one by Jesus: happy mourners.
Although it sounds like an impossibility, I want to share with you from my personal experience that what Jesus says is true.
What I want to share with you this morning comes from my heart which has been touched by grief.
I will not tell you that I understand what you feel or that my pain is as deep as yours or that my loss in any way compares with the losses you have lived through.
What I do want to tell you is that I have mourned. And in my mourning, I have experienced the comfort Jesus speaks of. And from my own experience, with the authority of the words of Jesus, I tell you – "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."
The sermon series is "The Pursuit of Happiness" and is based on the Beatitudes found in Matthew 5.
TURN TO Matthew 5:1-4
I ask you to consider these three points:
Pleasure and Pain are Closely Connected.
Only Those Who Mourn will be Comforted.
There is Rich Reward in Giving Comfort.
READ Matthew 5:1?4
It may sound to you, at first, to be a contradiction to say that pleasure and pain are closely connected. We usually think of pleasure and pain being opposites – unconnected - entirely different.
However, a book by Philip Yancey titled Where Is God When It Hurts (Zondervan Publishing, 1977, pp. 32-33.) helped me to understand this principle. Mr. Yancey tells about visiting the U.S. Public Health Service Hospital in Carville, LA. The Carville facility is one of the few of its kind. They offer specialized treatment there. They work with victims of Hansen’s Disease. You have probably heard it called Leprosy.