“Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted”
— Matthew 5
“… there is time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…”
— Ecclesiastes 3:4
These biblical passage have been use by Christians and non-Christians alike in many different contexts, but both talk about an aspect of sorrow that is not welcome into the 21st century style of living!
Jesus and Solomon tell us that there is a time to mourn, and if that’s true, then it follows that there is a time not to be happy, a time to wipe the smiles from our faces.
Sometimes happiness is a lie and sadness is the truth.
One of the most powerful experiences in this life is the experience of loss: the loss of a job, the loss of a relationship, the loss of a loved one…
What are you grieving right now?
What lost have you faced of late that has weighed your heart?
Like most people, I really do not like crying, but I have come to realize that the deep pain I feel when I experience loss is the kind of soul-sickness that reminds me I’m more than a body; I’m spirit.
Jesus tells us in the Beatitude, “Blessed are those who mourn.” This truth seems to be missing in the church and the world today.
It’s as if we’ve come to believe that a smile is definitive proof of what it means to be human, alive and blessed. Living happy ever after with a smile doesn’t mean that your life or faith is any more real or alive than the life or faith of someone who is mourning and in tears.
There is one aspect of mourning that is very important. It is the mourning over our own sins and the messes we make of life.
“We cannot be proud and mourn over sin at the same time. We cannot be judgmental toward other believers, or even toward unbelievers, if we are truly contrite and brokenhearted over our sin.”
When thinking about mourning over sin, there is a lesson for us to apply in today’s culture.
There is no question that our nation is sinking more deeply into gross sins of violence (school shootings), immorality (human trafficking), murder (especially of the unborn), flagrant dishonesty, and other kinds of vile sins.
What should be our attitude toward these sins? We have three options: condone it, condemn it or mourn over it.
We certainly don’t condone it, but I think most of us merely condemn it.
It is the third option I believe we should pursue, and the attitude of Ezra at the time of the Jews return from exile can be an example to us.
Ezra was a godly man; he “had set his heart to study the Law of the Lord, and to do it and to teach his statutes and rules in Israel” (Ezra 7:10).
Although a godly man himself, Ezra identified with the sins of the people and mourned over them. When he learned that the returned exiles had again begun to intermarry with the idolatrous people of the land, he tore his garments (a sign of deep mourning), and prayed:
O my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift my face to you, my God, for our iniquities have risen higher than our heads, and our guilt has mounted up to the heavens. (Ezra 9:6)
It is so easy for us to stand apart from the culture and do no more than express self-righteous judgmentalism toward it.
Ezra identifies himself with the sins of the people: our iniquities, our guilt.
I believe this is the attitude we should pursue in our day. It is so easy for us to stand apart from the culture and do no more than express self-righteous judgmentalism toward it.
But those of us who grieve deeply over our own sin will not do this.
Instead, we will mourn over what is going on in our nation and will pray most urgently that, just as we want God to be merciful to us, so we want Him to be merciful to our nation as a whole.
This will be another expression of humility in our action.
Condone, condemn or mourn.
Which does our culture need most?
Which will you do?
Sam Rosa is the senior minister at Delaware Christian Church.