Can anything good come out of mourning?
By Don Ruhl
To have paradise on earth, grieve. The Beatitudes in Matthew 5 widen the gulf between the disciple of Christ and the disciple of the world. In the second Beatitude, Jesus says,
Blessed are those who mourn,
For they shall be comforted.
Blessed are those who mourn?
Happy are those who are not happy? Does joy come from sorrow? Does grief produce gladness? Yes, because as Ecclesiastes 3 teaches, there is a time and a purpose for everything. Our world sees no place for sorrow, so it is avoided at all costs. Solomon struck a balance in life, showing that there is wisdom in this Beatitude.
To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:
A time to be born,
And a time to die…
A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance.
(Ecc. 3:1, 2a, 4).
If times of sadness are not good, why did God give us an entire book in the Bible called…Lamentations? “Our Lord never tried to escape the sorrows of life, nor did He deny that they existed. Jesus did not tell His disciples to go out and look for sorrow, but He did tell them that He was able to transform their tears and bring them comfort” (V. P. Black).
Even as there are times to be angry, and failing to be angry is sin, so there are times to mourn, and failing to mourn is sin. Thus, the Bible does not encourage us to avoid sorrow, but it does say that we will be comforted. “It is good to be able to feel pain. Dead limbs feel no pain. As long as there is the sensitivity to pain, there is hope…” (Neale Pryor).
Therefore, mourning is not a sign of weakness, nor is it a disease. According to Ecclesiastes 7, mourning is a sign of wisdom. Think of the times when you did your deepest thinking about life and when you made radical changes; what kind of times were those?
Better to go to the house of mourning
Than to go to the house of feasting,
For that is the end of all men;
And the living will take it to heart.
Sorrow is better than laughter,
For by a sad countenance the heart is made better.
The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
But the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
“Never does a man know the force that is in him till some mighty…grief has humanized the soul” (F. W. Robertson).
Psalm 42 pictures a sorrow that many people have, that is, they are missing something or Someone greatly. Because they are also poor in spirit, they know of their need for God and they suffer in the spirit when they are without Him.
As the deer pants for the water brooks,
So pants my soul for You, O God.
My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.
When shall I come and appear before God?
My tears have been my food day and night,
While they continually say to me,
“Where is your God?”
When I remember these things,
I pour out my soul within me.
For I used to go with the multitude;
I went with them to the house of God,
With the voice of joy and praise,
With a multitude that kept a pilgrim feast.
Why are you cast down, O my soul?
And why are you disquieted within me?
Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him
For the help of His countenance.
O my God, my soul is cast down within me;
Therefore I will remember You from the land of the Jordan,
And from the heights of Hermon,
From the Hill Mizar.
It is right to express deep emotion. Mourning is like the rain that makes roses, but also makes mud. Therefore, let us use it to make us better people. Mourning is like a great teacher, allowing us to see further through our tears than through man’s telescope. Mourning to a godly person is like a spring frost that precedes the warmer season, but mourning to a hardened soul is like a fall frost that precedes the colder season.
So, trying to divert mourning is aggravating. It has to be absorbed, and then comfort fills our souls. The blessedness is not upon all mourners:
- Not those who delight in being miserable.
- Not those injured in their pride and do not repent (Est. 6:12).
- Not those who mourn because they were caught in their sin (2 Cor. 7:10).
- Not those who mourn to be seen of men (Mat. 6:16).
- Not those who mourn to manipulate God and others (Zech. 7:5).
The blessing is for those who mourn at their sin.
There is no soundness in my flesh
Because of Your anger,
Nor any health in my bones
Because of my sin.
For my iniquities have gone over my head;
Like a heavy burden they are too heavy for me.
My wounds are foul and festering
Because of my foolishness.
I am troubled, I am bowed down greatly;
I go mourning all the day long.
Hosea 4 says the land mourns the presence of sin. Surely we are more intelligent than rocks and dirt.
By swearing and lying,
Killing and stealing and committing adultery,
They break all restraint,
With bloodshed upon bloodshed.
Therefore the land will mourn;
And everyone who dwells there will waste away
With the beasts of the field
And the birds of the air;
Even the fish of the sea will be taken away.
(Hos. 4:2, 3).
The blessing is for those who mourn at sin in others.
We know there is a Bible book called Ezra. Therefore, we assume correctly that he was a man of God, one whom we admire. But why do we admire Ezra? In Ezra 10, he mourned over those who unscripturally divorced and remarried.
The blessing is for those who mourn when the saints are overpowered.
The Books of Nehemiah, Esther and Job, show the power of godly men and women mourning the loss of power on the part of the saints. However, when Nehemiah, Esther and Job’s friends mourned, they found comfort.
Therefore, mourning is an important godly trait. What makes a person weep? This will show his values. Mourning builds our kinship with humanity. “A coal fire softens iron, and sorrow softens a man’s heart, but both revert to the original hardness” (Austin O’Malley). “Sorrows gather around great souls as storms do around mountains; but, like them, they [the mountains and great souls] break the storm and purify the air of the plain beneath them” (Richter). “Sorrows humanize our race; tears are the showers that fertilize the world” (Owen Meredith).
Mourners shall be comforted?
“The happiest, sweetest, tenderest homes are not those where there has been no sorrow, but those which have been overshadowed with grief, and where Christ’s comfort was accepted” (J. R. Miller). Paul taught something in Acts 14 that shows that “The path of sorrow, and that path alone, leads to the land where sorrow is unknown; no traveller ever reached that blessed abode who found not thorns and briers in his road” (Cowper).
Paul was “strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God’” (Acts 14:22).
Whenever Christians have reason to mourn, God is fashioning another pillar for His temple. Remembering the sorrow of Jesus helps us to see that we are traveling on the road to heaven. So when a time of sadness is needed, we do not find comfort by fighting it, but by following it. Hear the wisdom of this quote, “Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seamed with scars; martyrs have put on their coronation robes glittering with fire, and through their tears have the sorrowful first seen the gates of heaven” (E. H. Chapin).
Revelation 21 shows that the gates of heaven are made of pearls. Do you know how pearls are made? A grain of sand enters the oyster and by the irritation caused, the creature secretes a substance for protection. Mourning is like that substance. “The twelve gates were twelve pearls: each individual gate was of one pearl…” (Rev. 21:21).
The Book of Revelation pictures heaven as a colorful place. Some of that color we acquire before we enter the pearly gates. It is by the tears of mourning that our souls have rainbows. “Sorrow is our John the Baptist, clad in grim garments, with rough arms, a son of the wilderness, baptizing us with bitter tears, preaching repentance; and behind him comes the gracious, affectionate, healing Lord, speaking peace and joy to the soul” (F. D. Huntington).
For His anger is but for a moment,
His favor is for life;
Weeping may endure for a night,
But joy comes in the morning.
He who continually goes forth weeping,
Bearing seed for sowing,
Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing,
Bringing his sheaves with him.
“If the internal griefs of every man could be read, written on his forehead, how many who now excite envy, would appear to be objects of pity?” Metastasio).
Don Ruhl preaches with the Savage Street Church of Christ, 220 NE Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon, 97526-1310, 541-476-3100, Rdruhl@aol.com