Continuing his series on what it looks like to be God’s heroes, Garry spoke from Matthew 5:1-12 last night, focussing on verse 4 (“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”)

Mourning signifies loss and is most often associated with death. In our modern society, with technological and medical advances, we have often been lulled into a sense of false security regarding the fragility and frailty of life. In mediaeval times, people lived with a daily awareness of death; nowadays, death often comes as a shocking surprise. We can react to loss and grief in different ways, trying to deaden the pain or become impervious to loss. That kind of British stoicism is not God’s answer, however. He wants us to engage with Him in our grief, which cannot be avoided.

We mourn not only death, but the loss of perfection, the loss of Eden. We crave the new world where there are ‘no more tears or broken dreams’ and ‘everything as it was meant to be’ (Matt Redman, ‘Endless Hallelujah’). We mourn for the lost relationship with God, for the loss of innocence, for the brokenness of our everyday, fallen world (as Phil Wickham writes about in the song ‘Eden’.)

We need to understand that mourning is not something that can be avoided. Jesus Himself wept over Jerusalem and at the grave of Lazarus. Creation itself groans at the pain of sin (see Romans 8). But there is comfort to be found in our mourning, comfort from God which can then enable us to ‘mourn with those who mourn’ and ‘comfort those who mourn’ (Is 61:1-2) God’s comfort is such that it becomes the springboard to our helping others (2 Cor 1:3-4).

We do not live in a permanent state of sorrow. God’s comfort brings joy and hope. There is a time for everything, as Ecclesiastes 3 points out. As we receive God’s comfort, our lament is turned into dancing (Ps 30:10-11) and we are filled with joy. God pours in comfort and our task then is to spread His comfort and joy to all around us.