Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Gladness of Sadness

Have you noticed that we live in a culture that embraces entertainment and pursues pleasure at all costs? For many people, life is spent avoiding sorrow and pain. The mantra of many today is something like this: “Blessed are those who laugh their way through life.” Some of us will do almost anything to stifle our sadness and turn away from tears.

In one of the most profound, and paradoxical texts in the Bible, Jesus declares in Matthew 5:4: “Blessed are those who mourn; for they will be comforted.”

This Beatitude flows from the first one: “Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven,” because spiritual bankruptcy should lead to spiritual brokenness. Of the different words that can be translated, “mourn,” Jesus uses here the strongest one available. It means, “to grieve or wail” as when a loved one dies. It is deep sorrow that causes the soul to ache and the heart to break. Jesus is not talking about complainers or moaners, but about those who are gripped by grief like Psalm 34:18 describes: “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” The haughty heart and the tearless eye should be foreign to the follower of Jesus.

What does Jesus mean by saying we are blessed when we mourn? Maybe we can see by looking at Reasons Why We May Mourn:

1. Lament the losses in your life. Some of you have lost a loved one through death and you still cry yourself to sleep at night. Or, maybe you’re like Hannah in the Bible who “in bitterness of soul wept much and prayed to the LORD” because she wanted to have a child and cold not. What ever your loss here is comfort for those who mourn. Did you know that God collects every tear you shed? Listen to Psalm 56:8, “You number my wanderings; Put my tears into your bottle; Are they not in your book?

Christianity is a religion that allows you to be real. When you’re hurting, let it out. When you feel like crying, let the tears fall. God understands. He cares. And He will provide you with comfort.

2. Be sorrowful about your sins. We can only find the blessing of God in forgiveness when we have godly sorrow over our sin. Have you ever echoed Paul’s agony over sin in Romans 7:24, “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” My guess is that most of us today don’t use language like that to describe the state of our souls. But sorrow is essential if we want to truly turn from sin. If we don’t grieve over our guilt, we won’t really understand grace and fully appreciate forgiveness.

3. Cry over the condition of others and our world. In Luke 19 Jesus sees the entire city of Jerusalem in a panoramic view. It was stunning in its beauty with shiny white buildings and the gleaming gold of Herod’s temple. But Jesus saw something different. Everyone was thrilled and happy, with the exception of Him. “As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it.”

The great reformer of Scotland, John Knox, constantly carried the burden of the lost people of his native land. Night after night, he prayed on the wooden floor of his house. When his wife pleaded with him to get some sleep, he answered, “How can I sleep when Scotland is not saved?”

Comfort comes to those who mourn. Psalm 30:5 says, “For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”

Sorrow, mourning and weeping serve a purpose in our lives. Listen to the message of this little verse:

I walked a mile with Pleasure, she chatted all the way
But left me none the wiser for all she had to say
I walked a mile with Sorrow and not a word said she
But oh, the things I learned when sorrow walked with me

Quadriplegic JONI EARECKSON TADA said, “You don’t have to be alone in your hurt! Comfort is yours. Joy is an option and it’s all been made possible by your SAVIOR Jesus Christ. He went without comfort so you might have it. He postponed joy so you might share in it. He willingly chose isolation so you might never be alone in your hurt and sorrow.”

What an attitude to have! Joni is a person who understands what it means when Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted.”

What about you? Do the things that break the heart of Jesus break your heart? When’s the last time you sorrowed over your sinfulness, cried for Christians, or wailed for the wayward?


  1. Joy is an option....most people forget that part. Thanks for reminding this person.

    Great words and great work.

  2. Great insight. I am really enjoying reading your posts.

    How true it is that we run from anything that makes us uncomfortable. I was reflecting on my own heart the other day. We get so busy that we don't have time to mourn, especially for those that are lost. I want to be broken for my friends, family, and my church that do not know God as "Lord and Savior."

    Your post comes at a very appropriate time for me.

  3. Kevin,
    Joni has such a great testimony of that--we can choose joy.

  4. Larry,
    Hey, good job on the guest post on 31DBBB.
    It has been said, "The reason we have so many dry baptistries is because we have so many dry eyes!" Remember Psalm 126 says, “Those who sow in tears Shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, Bearing seed for sowing, Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, Bringing his sheaves with him.”

  5. Thank you for writing this, Richard! The verse you posted in the comment above from Psalm 126 is exactly what I was thinking as I read! I was going to add it here but see that you beat me to it!

    We've been going through a really hard time lately. I've been having some trouble dealing with everything because there's so much happening. Thank you for giving me "permission" to cry and mourn and reminding me to also focus on what's eternal. I needed that today.

    (Also, thanks for visiting my blog and posting a comment today!)

    Is there a way to subscribe to your blog by e-mail?


  6. Good post. I linked it to a blog of ours from this week.

  7. Sometimes I think I shed tears too easily, but your post tells me that tears are a good thing. I love it when Jesus wraps his arms around me to comfort me.

  8. Jennifer,
    Spirit filled minds think alike, I guess. I added an e-mail subscription gadget. I would appreciate it if you could let me know if it works.

  9. Ronnie,
    Thanks for the link. I'll see if I can reciprocate. --Richard

  10. Donna,
    Thanks for coming by and commenting. (This is Donna F. from Gardner right?) I am so glad to be able to continue to share God's word with you. -- Richard


Thank you for commenting. I appreciate your thoughts and opinions on this post.