Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Mourning in Faith

“Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.”
- Jesus in Matthew 5:4

It has only recently occurred to me just how counter-intuitive this particular statement is. I’ve heard the word “blessed” interpreted as “happy.” When I see the word “blessed” or “blessing,” I can’t help but think of grace. God’s blessings are His gracious gifts to us. To be blessed is to be the recipient of God’s grace. Either way, it seems ludicrous to say that those who mourn are blessed. In fact, the opposite feels true. Those who mourn do so because they have suffered loss. Since when is suffering loss a blessing?

More recently another counter-intuitive aspect of these words of Jesus has stood out to me. Jesus says that those who mourn are blessed because they shall be comforted. At first glance, this, too, is nonsense. Comfort is peace, healing, presence, and relief. Mourning is deep sadness. Jesus’ claim is that comfort comes through deep sorrow. This makes no sense…apart from God. An analogy has helped me begin to understand Jesus’ teaching and my own experience.

When we experience loss, we all find ourselves on the banks of the River Grief. On the other side of the torrent is the comfort that God offers and that we desire. Of course, God doesn’t offer comfort and then make it inaccessible. But, the way that He provides across the river – the Bridge of Mourning – is not a very attractive option. Frankly, we would rather try to find our own way across – jumping from rock to rock, swimming, wading, building a boat, etc. – than take this unsightly overpass. We think, Surely there has to be another or a better way across. But there isn’t. Such is the nature of our grief, the richness of God’s comfort, the limitation of our humanity, and the depth of our need for God. We cannot cross on our own efforts. We will always be swept away by the current. We need God.

The loss of Samuel has filled my heart with grief – most of it new, some of it old. I long for comfort from this grief. Standing on one side of the river longing to be on the other, I have a choice as to how I will proceed. I can navigate my grief with the help and wisdom of God (i.e. trust Him and mourn), or I can attempt to traverse the rapids my own way. For most of my life, I have tried to cross the River Grief on my own – sometimes out of fear, sometimes because of a lie I believed, sometimes because I didn’t know any better – and the results have varied from fruitless to harmful. I want to grieve Samuel’s death well and, currently, mourning is the clearest and simplest picture that I have of what that looks like. It’s not that Matthew 5:4 now makes perfect sense to me, but that I have less confidence in my ability to figure out my own way through grief and more confidence in Jesus and His ways. After all, He has a perfect track record of faithfulness (which, if I look, for example, at my handling of grief, is a lot more than I can say for myself).

In my grief I want the comfort of God, but I don’t want to have to mourn to get it. But Jesus is, in fact, the Way, the Truth, and the Life (John 14:6), and He says that the way to comfort is through mourning. I’m not sure how to do this, and I have far more questions than answers, but I want to trust Him. Mourning, for me, has become an act of faith. I mourn not because it is easy, or most natural, or because it makes sense, but because Jesus invites me to receive His comfort through mourning.

God, please grant me the courage that I need to grieve well. I want to trust You and to express my faith by choosing to mourn this grief. Grant me the grace to trust You. I am broken-hearted, and I long for Your comfort. Thank You that You offer it to me in and through Your Son, Jesus. Help me. I pray this in the name of Jesus. Amen.


  1. Praying for you guys! God WILL provide the comfort you need! Love you!

  2. Grieving is such a process. It usually doesn't come when we think it will, which tends to make it all the more difficult. I'm praying for your courage to grieve well, for it is not an easy thing to do. I'm praying that our God will grant you His grace and His comfort. Receive all the goodness that Jesus has invited you to have.

    With love...

  3. we continue to pray for your family. thank you for continuing your blog. it brings up many things for me to think about and challenges me in my relationship with God. my heart is with you in your journey to restoration.
    sabina mazac