As we move through the Beatitudes, it’s important to note that Jesus taught them not as a group of random sayings, but as a progression, with each one building upon the previous.
The first beatitude was (and is) our starting point – being poor in spirit. Only when we recognize our spiritual poverty, how utterly destitute we are before a holy God, can we begin our journey.
And what is the next step in our journey? Let’s listen in as Jesus teaches:
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
(Matthew 5:4 NIV)
Mourning? Really, Jesus? Spiritually speaking, why can’t we go directly from rags to riches, from lack to luxury? Jesus knows us and the condition of our hearts too well, and knows restoration is a process, not an event.
As we realize our spiritual poverty, this recognition produces genuine sorrow, a deep mourning in us. This sorrow is not regret, this is not an excuse, this is not feeling bad about getting caught, this is not a feeling of loss over something that we no longer possess. This sorrow simply says, “I was wrong, and it breaks my heart”.
The apostle Paul addresses worldly sorrow vs. godly sorrow:
“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”
(2 Corinthians 7:10 NIV)
King David best expressed this mourning in Psalm 51, in his confession of adultery with Bathsheba, and the murder of her husband Uriah:
“You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart
you, God, will not despise.”
(Psalm 51:16-17 NIV)
As we look at Jesus’ second beatitude, we notice that the timeframe for mourning is the present, not the past (i.e., “blessed are those who are mourning now”, not “blessed are those who were mourning, and are now over it”).
So we see that godly sorrow, genuine remorse over our sin and spiritual poverty is good, and it’s in the present. Are we stuck there? Do we live in a continual state of mourning, depression, and sadness, like Winnie the Pooh’s friend Eeyore?
No. Jesus promises comfort for our souls. This is not “comfort” as in “comfort and convenience” for our selfish desires, but rather, the comfort that soothes our broken hearts.
The Greek word Jesus uses for comfort is that of a friend coming to our side, and sitting with us in our distress. This friend offers their presence first and foremost; they may not utter a single word, and often sheds tears along with us.
This comfort Jesus speaks about brings solace, consolation, encouragement, and offers strength to continue. It summary, Jesus’ comfort offers hope.
Are you and I heartbroken over our sin? Will we receive the comfort that only Jesus can offer?