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.
Sounds like an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms, this talk about mourning and being blessed. Given the choice of mourning or laughing, most of us would choose laughing every time. The world sees nothing blessed about mourning, but urges us to eat, drink, and be merry!
Martin Lloyd Jones, in his classic commentary on the Sermon on the Mount, describes people’s tendency to avoid mourning their spiritual poverty:
The whole organization of life, the pleasure mania, the money, energy and enthusiasm that are expended in entertaining people are all just an expression of the great aim of the world to get away from the idea of mourning and this spirit of mourning.
Here again we see how Jesus looks at things differently than the world. Jesus declares those truly blessed who mourn falling short of what God created them to be. It is to mourn that “We have left undone those things which we ought to have done; and we have done those things which we ought not to have done” (Book of Common Prayer). We are truly hurt that we have so hurt God.
It is this deep mourning of our spiritual poverty that Jesus commends in His story about the tax-collector:
But the tax-collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his home justified” (Luke 18:13-14).
Mourning his sin, the tax-collector “was beating his breast” and not daring “even to look up to heaven”. To mourn who we are and what we have done is a first sign of spiritual recovery. It is this mourning that draws the comfort of the Savior.
The Old Testament prophets foretell Messiah’s coming as God moving to comfort to His people (Isaiah 66:1-3, 13). God sent His prophet Isaiah with the command: “Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God” (Isaiah 40:1). Jews of later centuries would speak of Messiah as Menahem, which means “Comforter”. As Jesus Messiah left this world He promised to send the Holy Spirit to act in His place as the Comforter (John 14:16, 26).
If today you mourn your spiritual poverty, then know that you are blessed and favored by God. It can be exceedingly painful to let go our denial and face up to our sin. But God will favor us with His boundless grace and forgiveness. We will be comforted.
PONDER AND PRAY
“Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old shall be merry. I will turn their mourning into joy, I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.”—Jeremiah 31:13
- What feelings and thoughts does your spiritual poverty stir in you?
- Have you ever experienced God’s comfort when you have failed Him or others? If so, explain.
- What do you want To Say To God?