Friday, March 28, 2014

Blessed Comfort (Matthew 5:4)

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4, NASB95)

Yesterday I started looking at Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount and the first of what we know as the Beatitudes, or statements that start off with “blessed are” and then describe the condition of individuals. Yesterday it was, “Blessed are the poor in spirit,…” Each of these “blessed are” statements are then concluded with a “for” response of answer that directly relates to their condition. Yesterday we saw that those who are humble and dependent in spirit are those who are given the kingdom of God. These are the people who recognize their great need, and find their answer to that need in God.

Today the “blessed are” people are those who mourn. Now those who mourn are not separate from those who are poor in spirit or any of the other “blessed are” groups. But they are those who are going through a difficult season as the result of some brokenness or loss. Prior to writing today I went to Facebook to catch up on a few friends and saw that one of them had posted a picture which had the words embedded, “Today is World Cancer Day, I light this candle in honor of all cancer survivors, fighters and those who have lost their lives to this disease.” And sure enough there is a world cancer day, which was evidently February 4th of this year. That was a single day, but this sentiment is one that burdens many day after day, especially those who are not included in the declaration—those who lost a loved one due to the ravages of cancer. For them they are walking with a hole in their lives and hearts due to someone very close to them not being present in their lives.

Whether it is cancer, heart attack, car accident, or even plane crash we all at some time experience periods of mourning. And our Lord Jesus understands our loss. The prophet Isaiah wrote of Him, “He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:3–5, NASB95)

Jesus had not yet gone to the cross or suffered those things spoken of by Isaiah at the time of the Sermon on the Mount, but being eternal God He knew what lay before Him and He took it on willingly for us. Because of the suffering He was to endure on our behalf, we are indeed eternally blessed.

In 2 Corinthians chapter 1 we read that our God is truly a God of comfort, and He is able to give it to us abundantly in Christ. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ.” (2 Corinthians 1:3–5, NASB95)

Nowhere does Scripture tell us that we are to “Buck up” and not show our emotions. Rather, we find that our God knows our emotions and He calls us to come to Him and put before Him even our deepest hurts and see how He works to turn those hurts into comfort and blessing. This is especially true for those who are mourning over the loss of a loved one who is a believer is Christ. For in this there is the great hope of being reunited with all believers for all eternity. Even in the face of losing someone for whom we question their salvation or we might even be pretty confident that the person die not having trusted in Christ, as believers we have the blessed assurance that God is faithful to His promises and that while they may have rejected Him, He will never reject us but has eternally adopted us as His beloved children.

In 2 Thessalonians Paul wrote, “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace, comfort and strengthen your hearts in every good work and word.” (2 Thessalonians 2:16–17, NASB95)

This is where the “for” part of the “blessed are” come is. In Matthew 5:4 we read “for” these people will truly be comforted. The blessing is not necessarily found in the loss, but in how our God responds to meet the needs resulting from the loss. In the meantime we are told to understand this of each other, and in that the Bible says, “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15, NASB95)

And as we do this with one another, we can do so reminding each other of our great hope. “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” (1 Thessalonians 4:13–18, NASB95)

Those who mourn in Christ indeed are those who also are poor in spirit, and in the comfort that comes from God we know that he holds firmly in His hands all of the resources of heaven and earth and is fully powerful and wise to use them exactly as He knows best.

Beatitude facet number 2: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

No comments: