By Brooke Holt
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." Matthew 5:4
People in Jesus' time truly understood the process of grief and mourning. When someone died in their communities, they set aside thirty days to grieve the death. Professional mourners were hired; the people wept and wailed openly for their loss. It was a heart-wrenching experience that allowed for emotions to be expressed openly.
These days, we often suppress our grief. We hide our tears and act as stoic as possible through the pain of grief. In the place of greatest pain, we often speak platitudes to ourselves and to others. These platitudes can be true, such as: you will see them again in heaven... they are out of pain... God works good in all things. While all very true statements for the believer, these platitudes are spoken to relieve the pain one is experiencing. God would have us feel the grief, spend the needed time expressing it, and then to move on with life in a healthy way. Suppressed grief is unhealed grief.
Jesus used this understanding of grieving the loss of a loved one to teach his listeners about grieving their sin. The Beatitudes begin with "Blessed are the poor in spirit." This first Beatitude holds the key to understanding and appropriating the rest of the Beatitudes. As one who has nothing to bring before the Lord but a broken heart and spirit, a heathy grieving process occurs. One is called to see himself as he is - to see his inability to truly follow the law and to grieve that deeply, a passionate lament over that state of sin. This soul-piercing grief is so deep, so real, and so intense it creates a desperate cry from the heart for the Lord and for his mercy and grace.
Desperation before the Lord allows the Lord to bring his comfort. Throughout the Gospel of Matthew, we see those who desperately cry out to Jesus receive the healing they so desperately want and need. The prostitutes are declared clean; the tax collectors are declared righteous; the lame, the blind, the deaf and the spiritually oppressed who have no hope for healing apart from Jesus are healed. Broken people cried out to the Messiah, and he met them in their brokenness with compassion, love, and power.
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." Jesus stood ready to receive these broken people during his earthly ministry, and he still does today. Recognizing sin and grieving sin can be a painful process. This process recognizes our inability to change and to heal ourselves. Yet, that recognition leads to the healing touch of our Savior. May we see the depths of our sin today; may we grieve our sin with passion; and may we experience the compassion, love, and power of our Savior. Jesus came to bring salvation to those who see their sin, turn from that sin, and look to him. Praise be to God!
How do you respond to your sin? Do you make excuses for your sin? Do you accept your sinful behaviors and tendencies? Or are you willing to be broken over your sin, to grieve it, turn from it, and experience the forgiveness that comes through the cross of Christ? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
How do you prepare your hearts for Christmas as you prepare your homes, meals, and gifts? Underneath all the busyness of Christmas lies the true purpose of the season – the celebration of the birth of our Savior Jesus Christ. Hope-Peace-Love-Joy is a four-week Advent Study focused on preparing your hearts for the coming king. Start your day with a short devotional reading. Each week, an engaging video teaching from our authors, Marcia and Gilda, will lead you into discussion questions included in the small group study guide. This Advent season make some time to study, reflect, and discuss the significance of Jesus coming to dwell among his people. Invite some neighbors or your best friends to join you on this faith adventure. Make time to rekindle or renew your faith this Advent season.
To see all of our Advent resources, click here.
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