Sometimes, life hurts. Bad things happen, even to the most Godly people. Loved ones die; houses burn; vehicles get wrecked; other people say hurtful things. Sometimes, we even bring pain upon ourselves by behaving foolishly—or at least feel like we brought the pain upon ourselves.
And it really does hurt, and we want to grieve and mourn. And then, along comes someone with a big, cheesy smile. “Jesus wants to give you joy!” Or they briefly sympathize with you, and then try to cheer you up, and encourage you not to “wallow” in “self-pity”.
Make no mistake, joy is definitely one of the fruits of the Spirit, and the joy of the Lord is our strength. But in the Beatitudes, Jesus also gives us the permission to mourn—in fact, He encourages us to mourn.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. (Matthew 5:4)
As I studied this verse, God showed me a powerful concept: God blesses those who mourn, not those who paste on a smiling face and pretend that everything is okay. God wants us to process grief and not be afraid to mourn.
God wants us to feel our feelings. It is not wrong to be sad and unhappy, to mourn and grieve. God does not expect us to immediately bounce back from tragedy with smiles on our faces.
When we pretend that everything is okay and refuse to mourn or otherwise acknowledge our true emotions, can God truly bring healing? Does He fix something that we are trying to deny even exists? Actually, He is probably working behind the scenes to help fix our problems. However, until we acknowledge and express our pain and suffering, God cannot comfort us.
And pain does not go away when we ignore it. It sits below the surface, driving us to act and think in unhealthy ways. No, denial is not the cure for pain. Pain needs to be healed.
As I look over the Beatitudes, one thing that I find interesting is that all the blessings on this list come from God. They are all things that God does, not that we do. We are the ones who are poor in spirit, meek, hungry, pure, etc, but God is the one who gives the rewards or benefits. It fits in with what we saw in the last post: that God wants us to rely on Him and not look to our own strength.
In this particular verse, we see that God wants us to rely on Him for comfort. Generally, it is in the hard times of our lives that we grow closer to God. He comforts us according to our specific need, and in the process draws us closer and teaches us more about Himself.
Hope and joy in the Christian life do not come by ignoring problems, stuffing our feelings, or putting on a happy face. True hope and joy only come by God putting them into our hearts. Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”
You and I can no more create the joy of God in our hearts than we can save ourselves. Can we act happy? Sure. Can we try to look on the positive side of life? Sure. But if something is a fruit of the Spirit, we cannot create it on our own strength. It’s something that God has to give us through the Holy Spirit.
God tells us, “Rejoice with those who rejoice. Weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15) When others are hurting and grieving, it is not only callous and unkind to tell them to get over it or imply that they should, it is disobedience to God who has told us to weep with those who weep. Throughout our lives, we will meet many people who have much to mourn. We must allow them to do so. It is a necessary thing.
So don’t be afraid to feel what you feel. Don’t be afraid to express your true emotions. And don’t be afraid to seek your Heavenly Father’s comfort.
For more on this topic, I highly recommend the book Suffering and the Heart of God by Diane Langberg.