Summary: This is a sermon on the second beatitude. It is written in the "Lowry Loop" style and is designed to take the hearer from human mourning to godly sorrow
Title: “What’s So Blessed About Mourning Anyway?”
Text: Matthew 5:4
To move hearers to spiritually mourn and turn toward comfort in Christ
A UNIVERSAL BEATITUDE--UGH
The second beatitude is the only one that feels completely universal in scope.
“blessed are those who mourn,” is just about everybody. There is no one who doesn’t mourn; no life lived is untouched by grief; no soul is unaware of pain. As Michael Stipe sang in that hauntingly weird voice of his:
And everybody hurts,
Who doesn’t mourn? Only psychopaths never mourn because they don’t feel it. If you live and breathe and have any kind of a conscience at all; then you mourn.
Some people try and pretend like it doesn’t bother them or they never hurt and grieve. Christians, I fear, are the worse at this kind of sprayed on permasmile fraud. Somewhere we’ve been told in American Christianity that we must always be happy or we have let Jesus down or we might give a bad witness.
This has led to a couple of strange behavioral ticks in regard to sorrow or mourning. One, we deny our sorrow as we move through life, then suddenly one day it all rises to the top. So, some people handle mourning like other people handle anger. We are all familiar with folk hold back their anger suddenly erupt in Vesuvius, or Mt. St. Helens fashion. This type of eruption of mourning in the lives of believers almost invariably lead to a severe crisis of faith in which many people become disappointed with God because he did not make them happy all the time.
Many of these walk away from the faith.
The second oddball behavioral tick I have found when we try to repress mourning in other people. Our efforts to make the hurt go away lead us to cover up that mourning with really bad theological clichés which are true, but not always helpful. At one particular time in mine and Kim’s life we were hurting terribly because of loss. Our mourning was deep inside our souls. Over and over we heard from well meaning Christians, “Well, God has a plan and he knows what he is doing and it will all work out for the best,” and then they quote Romans 8:28 and say “all things come together for good to those who love him.”
All of that is true, but completely misapplied to the person who is suffering loss. Plus, when you say “all things come together for good to those who love him” and here I am sitting in my pain and Job like suffering you seem to be telling me I don’t love God enough. Not only is that painful, it is offensive and not to mention borderline heresy to imply our love for God keeps bad things from happening to us. People really need to read the whole Bible.
Speaking of Job, when we give poor counsel to people who are grieving, doesn’t it remind you of Job’s three friends? They did a far better job when they just sat there with their mouths shut.
(WHY) MOURN WHAT
“Blessed are those who mourn” and we underline that word mourn and think about how much psychological and emotional freight those five words are transporting. Usually, and this is true of the biblical word here, we understand mourn, or mourning, as sorrow or grief. We usually mourn because we have experienced grief. Another way is loss.
We mourn when we loose a loved one to death. That is a special kind of grief that seems to never go away. It stays with us and has its own life span of denial, depression, sadness, acceptance and then like shampooing our hair, once we’re done we find it repeats. This kind of grief sometimes turns to fear, fear of loosing more. The news, which is now nothing more than tabloid journalism, all of it, highlights 24-7 such things as swine flu because they know you’re afraid of dying and will watch.
There are other things we loose, though, that cause us to mourn. Loss of a job, for example. Especially in these troubled times a person may loose their job and find that there is more going on than paycheck troubles. Oftentimes emotional pain and grief go with it as a loss of meaning, purpose, long time relationships and so forth which go along with that job.
Oddly, the same type of loss often accompanies people who retire from their jobs. This is one reason I am more and more becoming convinced people should never really retire. Just transition into things you do that are different from what you earned your paycheck from. But let’s face it, for many people retirement is a time of mourning and loss. But some of the most content and pleasant to be around people I know are those who have retired but will tell you they have never been as busy as they are since they retired!