Of all the Beatitudes, there is perhaps one most baffling. "Happy are those who mourn." This statement from Jesus seems self-contradicting. How can one in a state of mourning be happy or blessed? To answer that question, it is important to have an understanding of the preceding verse which we discussed last time. So if you haven't read that, I'd encourage you to here. But the crux of it is this: Jesus is to be the source of our happiness. Without Him, we are poor, destitute, and hopeless. For the poor in spirit, this can elicit a response of mourning as we look at ourselves in the mirror and see the sin for which Jesus chose to die; or as we examine the pain we and others have endured in this life.
Matthew 5:4 "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."
This saying from Jesus is not Him telling us to get over it. He's not telling us we have no reason to mourn. He's not saying "Just be happy!" Jesus was an emotionally healthy man who felt all of His emotions perfectly. Including sadness. Jesus knows there are very real reasons to mourn in this life, for mourning tells us something is not as it should be. And who knows that better than God Himself?
In John 11, we get a picture of this in Jesus' famous response to the death of his beloved friend, Lazarus. In which we see Him weep over the loss of His friend. Jesus knows He is going to raise Lazarus from the dead. He has the power to cease Mary and Martha's suffering right there -- or better yet, He could have done so days prior. But He doesn't avail himself to that power. He allows Himself and others to mourn and grieve. To look these people He loved in the eye and meet with them in their suffering. Jesus sees the death and the damage sin has wrought on His world and it breaks Him.
Death, illness, war, atrocities against the defenseless. poverty, sin: none of these should exist. And when we mourn we are agreeing with that truth on an emotional/spiritual level. Our hearts ache and we wail like lost children just hoping someone will hear us and make everything okay again.
The good news is the Father does hear us. He has given His people the One person, the only thing in existence, able to fill our longing to be happy. And one day that person, Jesus Christ, will return.
"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
This is the best part! One day our King Jesus is coming back! And when He does our mourning over our sin and shame and hurt and pain will surface like never before. As we stand in the presence of our Holy God we will weep. But Jesus paid your price. So instead of just-wrath, you will receive the loving touch of your savior's nail scarred hands on your face as He wipes all your tears away for good and says, "I am making all things new."
Much like the rest of His ministry, Jesus is inviting us to flip our understanding upside down. We are not to find our happiness through the pursuit of pleasant circumstances, which can drastically change in a moment. We are to find our happiness in Jesus in spite of our circumstances. He is what our souls long for and He is unchanging. And just as He was with Mary and Martha, so is He with you. Jesus affirms your sadness and reasons to mourn and He walks with you through them. If you love and believe in Jesus as God, all of this life is a blink of your eye. Your mourning and suffering is real. But God has a purpose for it; it isn't meaningless. Among other reasons which we cannot know, that purpose is to draw you closer to God. To increase your gratefulness for your salvation. And to shape you into the image of Christ, an oak of righteousness, to the glory of God.