As you read and reflect on today’s beatitude, please listen to this track from contemporary Estonian composer Arvo Pärt. We will feature this track throughout Lent.
One of life’s greatest blessings has been to experience God’s comfort in my wife Melodee’s death many years ago, and now to come alongside others as they mourn. Since Melodee’s death I have been blessed to serve as a hospice chaplain, lead grief support groups, and walk with others through the dark valleys of loss. I can join with the Apostle Paul in praising God “who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (II Corinthians 1:4).
God’s tender comfort in death, divorce, loss of health, career loss, empty nest, and other kinds of loss is real. But it is not the mourning of such loss that Jesus blesses here or promises comfort from God. What Jesus has in mind is the mourning that necessarily follows from recognizing our poverty of spirit.
Jesus speaks the beatitudes in a logical and progressive order as each one prepares us for the one following. Those who face up to their spiritual poverty will mourn for what they are spiritually. John Stott points us to the context in order to understand this mourning that Jesus declares as “blessed”:
It is plain from the context that those here promised comfort are not primarily those who mourn the loss of a loved one, but those who mourn the loss of their innocence, their righteousness, their self-respect. It is not the sorrow of bereavement to which Christ refers but the sorrow of repentance (The Message of The Sermon the Mount).
Those who mourn their spiritual bankruptcy will be comforted by the only possible relief: the free, unearned, and boundless grace of God. We see our sin and wrong-centeredness, look for a Savior, and find Him in Christ. Jesus comes to “bind up the brokenhearted” (Isaiah 61:1) and speak peace to our stricken conscience.
PONDER AND PRAY
“As a mother comforts her child, so I will comfort you.”—Isaiah 66:13
- Do you mourn your spiritual poverty? Explain.
- Do you experience this mourning over spiritual poverty as a blessing?
- What do you want to say to God about this?