Matt.5:4: "Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted."
As we begin of study of this Beatitude, we need to learn the meaning of the Greek word for to mourn
that is used here,
is the strongest word for mourning in the Greek language.
It is the word which is used for mourning for the dead, for the passionate lament for one who was loved.
In the Septuagint, the Greek version of the Old Testament, it is the word which is used of Jacob's grief
when he believed that Joseph, his son, was dead. (Genesis.37:34)
It is defined as the kind of grief which grips a person so much that it cannot be hidden.
It is not only the sorrow which brings an ache to the heart; it is the sorrow which brings
tears to the eyes that cannot be contained.
This is an amazing kind of bliss: "Blessed is the man who mourns like one mourning for the dead."
There are three ways that we can consider this beatitude.
First, It can be taken quite literally: "Blessed is the man who has endured the bitterest sorrow
that life can bring."
The Arabs have a proverb: "All sunshine makes a desert."
The land on which the sun always shines will soon become an arid place in which no fruit will grow.
There are certain things which only the rains will produce; and certain experiences which only sorrow can bring.
Sorrow can do two things for us.
It can show us, as nothing else can, the essential kindness of others.
And it can also show us as nothing else can, the comfort and the compassion of God.
Many people in the hour of his sorrow has discovered the sorrows of others and his God as they never did before.
When things go well it is possible to live for years on the surface of things;
but when sorrow comes a man is driven to the deep things of life, and, if he accepts it as he should,
a new strength and beauty enter into his soul.
"I walked a mile with Pleasure,
She chattered all the way,
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.
I walked a mile with Sorrow,
And ne'er a word said she,
But, oh, the things I learned from her
When Sorrow walked with me!"
Secondly, there some people take this beatitude to mean:
"Blessed are those who are desperately sorry for the sorrow and the suffering of this world."
When we were thinking of the first beatitude we learned that it is always right to be detached from things,
but it is never right to be detached from people.
This world would have been sad and much poorer place, if there had not been those who cared intensely
about the sorrows and the sufferings of others.
Lord Shaftesbury of England probably did more for ordinary working men and women and for little children
than any social reformer ever did.
It all began very simply for him.
When he was a boy at Harrow, he was going down the street one day, and he met a pauper's funeral.
The coffin was a shoddy, ill-made cart.
It was being carried on a cart with two wheels.
This cart was being pushed by four drunk men.
As they pushed the barrow along, they were singing ribald songs, and joking and jesting among themselves.
As they pushed the barrow up the hill the box -- the coffin, fell off the barrow and burst open.
Some people would have thought that it was just a good joke.
Some would have turned away in fastidious disgust.
Some would have shrugged their shoulders, and would have felt that it had nothing to do with them,
although it might be a pity that such things should happen.
But young Shaftesbury saw it and said to himself, "When I grow up, I'm going to give my life to see
that things like that don't happen."
So he dedicated his life to caring for others.
Christianity is caring.
This beatitude does mean: "Blessed is the man who cares intensely for the sufferings
and for the sorrows, and for the needs of others."
The third way to take these words are in this beatitude, but its main thought undoubtedly is:
"Blessed is the man who is desperately sorry for his own sin and his own unworthiness."
Remember the very first word of the message of Jesus was, "Repent!"
No one can repent unless he is sorry for his sins.
The thing which really changes men is when they suddenly come up against something
which opens their eyes to what sin is and to what sin does.
A boy or a girl may go his or her own way, and may never think of effects and consequences;
and then some day something happens and that boy or girl sees the stricken look in a father's
or a mother's eyes; and suddenly, sin is seen for what it is.
That is what the Cross does for us.
As we look at the Cross, we are bound to say, "That is what sin can do.
Sin can take the loveliest life in all the world and smash it on a Cross."
One of the great functions of the Cross is to open the eyes of men and women to the horror of sin.
And when we see sin in all its horror, we cannot do anything else but experience
intense sorrow for our sin.
Christianity begins with a sense of sin.
Blessed is the man who is intensely sorry for his sin, the man who is heart-broken for what his sin
has done to God and to Jesus Christ, the man who sees the Cross and who is appalled
by the havoc wrought by sin.
It is the man who has that experience who will indeed be comforted; for that experience is what
we call penitence, and the broken and the contrite heart God will never despise. (Psalm.51:17)
The way to the joy of forgiveness is through the desperate sorrow of the broken heart.
We must also notice the assurance of the Beatitude's statement: the blessing will not fail to come.
Comfort, of course, is derived from the words "con" and "fort," meaning "with strength,"
and behind the promise of this word stands the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
where total defeat was turned into glorious victory.
If we possess that sensitivity of spirit that enables us to enter into the agony of mankind,
we will experience the lifting of the Spirit who will keep us from being smothered by the agony.
If we make our "quiet time" of worship a period of genuine empathy, of sorrow in prayer,
of participation and involvement in what may well seem (humanly speaking) to be the death throes of the race,
then there is hope for us.
God will honor our tears.
Peter taught us that the sufferings of Jesus Christ are a pattern for us to follow.
John painted on a mighty canvas the picture of those who "came out of great tribulation,
and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." (Revelation 7:14)
Paul and Silas received the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness, as, with sore backs,
they sang songs at midnight in the jail at Philippi.
Some through the water,
Some through the flood,
Some through the fire,
But all through the blood;
Some through great sorrow,
But God gives a song
In the night seasons
And all the day long.
The comfort of this Beatitude means, finally and precisely, joy: beauty for ashes, and the oil of joy for mourning.
Thus the valley of the shadow of death becomes our main highway to the life of goodness and mercy.
There are no side exits; it is a throughway, a turnpike.
If we mourn, things will be better.
God blessings will be ours!.
The real meaning of the second beatitude is:
"O the bliss of the man whose heart is broken for the world's suffering and for his own sin,
for out of his sorrow he will find the joy of God!"
This concludes the study of the second Beatitude.