“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matt 5.4)
As I write this, news is still coming in from Las Vegas, Nevada about a mass shooting at a Country Music Festival. Dozens are dead. Hundreds are injured. Not too many days ago there was a shooting at a church in Nashville, Tennessee. Every day in Chicago, Los Angeles, and other major cities the number of murders dwarf these mass slaughters. And this is only in the United States. Around the world people are being murdered by the thousands for seemingly senseless reasons.
With the rest of our country and the world in these times we Christians mourn. Like others we mourn at being ripped apart from those we love, empathizing with others who have lost loved ones, or even realizing that these acts of violence continue to tear apart the fabric of our society. Unlike others who are not Christians we mourn because all of these tragedies are signs that sin still has a strong hold on the world and the kingdom of God has not yet been consummated. We desire for the Lordship of Jesus Christ to be acknowledged in every area of life and so bring peace where there is enmity, love where there is hate, and life where there is death. That has not yet happened, so we mourn.
But we do not mourn as those who have no hope. We shall be comforted. Jesus is Lord. His kingdom has been established. He has all authority in heaven and on earth. His kingdom will not fail. It must prevail.
Our hope in Christ Jesus makes us the blessed ones. The word “blessed” basically means “happy.” “Happy are those who mourn….” That seems contradictory. It would be if our happiness was dependent upon the circumstances that surrounded us. But it is not. Our happiness is our deep contentment, our satisfaction, and our delight in God and his purposes.
Our blessedness is rooted in the blessedness, the happiness, of God himself. Scripture reveals to us that our God is eternally blessed (see Rom 1.25; 9.5; 2Cor 11.31; 1Tim 1.11). God is eternally happy. That is, he is content, satisfied, and delights in being God. This delight in being God is not diminished through horrors such as the cross. In fact, the cross is the demonstration of God’s love, and God delights in showing his love. God is happy even in the agony of cross because the cross is God being God for us. God can always be happy because he knows that there is a joy set before him (cf. Heb 12.1-2). His grand purpose has determined that even though these horrors must occur, they are not the end of the story. God’s last word is joy, peace, and life.
As we mourn, we are joining God in his perspective. He hates sin and all of its deadly fruit. But as Christians we must fully enter into God’s perspective, which means that we must also be happy; not happy that these things happen, but happy that we have a hope that things will not always be this way. Jesus through his church is somehow, some way, turning the world right-side-up. So, while we mourn, we mourn as those who have hope.
As our neighbors mourn all around us, let us be ready to give them a defense for the hope that is in us (1Pt 3.15).