Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

Matthew 5:4

Matthew 5:1-10; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 “Blessed to Mourn”

  • Sermon Details
  • Pastor Name: Rev. Daniel J. Commerford
  • Date & Time: February 21, 2016

*No audio or video available

On Monday, I checked my Facebook and discovered that a girl that I knew died in a car accident the day before. Her name was Laura, she was 20 years old, and I knew her from the conference at Montreat that I have been going to for the past few years. I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t know her that well. We talked a few times each year when I was there. I got to know her dad a bit in a photography class I took there. But even though we didn’t know each other well, she did leave an impression on me I remember her being excited to go to college. I remember her having a lot of friends there. But more than anything, I remember her smile and the genuine joy that radiated out of her.

When I heard that she had passed, I felt like a sack of bricks hit me in the stomach. I felt a wave of sadness overcome me. I felt sad for her dad, who would have to bury his child. I felt angry at the driver. I found myself questioning how such a horrible thing could happen to such a wonderful young woman. I held Hannah closer that day, and tried to push out all the fears that a similar thing could happen to her. I barely knew Laura, but when I learned of her passing, I definitely mourned her.

The grief that we go through when we mourn can be agonizing. It tears at our guts and eats away at our souls. And it’s something that all of us have experienced at one time or another. And we don’t only mourn when we lose someone. We mourn when our hopes are dashed, when something we value ends, or if a dream we have does not pan out. However it happens, mourning is one of the most difficult things we have to endure as human beings. It doesn’t matter how tough we are, grief, loss, and mourning can bring any of us to our knees.

So how on earth can we be blessed when we mourn? Today, we are going to look at what Jesus said about mourning, and how God can take the hardest season of our lives and use it to grow closer to him. We will see how mourning is an opportunity to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ, which can carry us through our hard times, as long as we are willing to walk with Christ through that arduous journey. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Grief, loss, and mourning is unavoidable. But whenever we do find ourselves in that difficult season, we will always have the choice to work through it in a way that is healthy or unhealthy. If we choose to work through it in a healthy way, we have an opportunity to be blessed by recognizing God’s presence in the midst of our suffering.

But if we are honest with ourselves, it is often very tempting to handle grief in an unhealthy way. And we are tempted to do this because mourning is a very unpleasant experience. So instead of facing it, we try to find ways to avoid our season of mourning. Some of us may try to ignore it all together and find things to distract us, like burying ourselves in work or a hobby. Others may try to maintain power and assign blame for what has happened. Some of us try to numb the pain and self medicate through drugs. And some try to assign a cosmic meaning to what happened. These are all ways we try to avoid our mourning. But the problem with these coping methods is that they serve to avoid what’s happening in our hearts, and they isolate us from God, and they isolate us from others. The reality is that death, loss, and mourning is something that we all have to go through, and if we want to come out on the other side, we need to face it head on!

But thank God, literally, that we never have to go through such a hard journey on our own. Jesus tells us that we can be blessed, or brought into God’s presence, by being comforted in our season of mourning. Today, I want to quickly share three gifts that God gives us in the midst of our hardships that can bring us closer to him, even in the darkest of times. The first thing that God gives us is comfort in the midst of suffering. This comfort comes from the fact that Jesus knows exactly what we are going through. The shortest verse in the Bible is John 11:35. Jesus wept. But why was he weeping? He was weeping because his friend, Lazarus, died. And even though Jesus knew he was going to raise him from the dead, he still wept. Sometimes, the best care we can get is support from people we know have gone through a similar ordeal. Jesus mourned, which means that he knows exactly what we are feeling when we mourn. And when Jesus have us his Spirit, he promised that he will always be with us. That means that, no matter what we endure, Christ will be right there alongside us, comforting us and supporting us in our time of need. God gives us the gift of comfort.

Second, God gives us the gift of hope, and that hope comes from a different perspective of death. In his letter to the Thessalonians, Paul encourages the church to remember the truth of the Good News of Jesus Christ. In Christ, we know that our death on this earth is not final, but is just a moment of our eternal relationship with Christ. Those who are God’s children do not truly die, but are ushered into an eternal life with God in heaven. For that reason, although we mourn when we lose someone we love, we do so differently because we know that we will see them again. As God’s children, our goodbyes never have to be true goodbyes, but rather “until we meet again.” With that perspective, we can mourn with a renewed hope in the eternal nature of our souls. In the midst of our mourning, God gives us the gift of hope.

But even in that hope, we still mourn. There will be moments when we feel like we are up to our necks in grief with no relief in sight. And that’s why God gave us this third gift, and that’s the gift of each other. In the last verse of this passage, Paul encourages the Thessalonians to encourage one another. If any of us have ever heard the saying “God won’t give you more than you can bear,” please purge that from your memories. Life is full of moments when we need each other to get out of the mire and find God again. But that’s what we are here for. God has given us each other to lean on for support, and even sometimes to lift us off our knees so that we can shake off the dust and move forward. God gives us his comfort and hope, but he also gives us one another to convey that comfort and hope.

Family, I wish I could stand up here and tell you that faith in Christ will prevent us from ever going through hard times, but I can’t. I wish I could stand here and say that following Christ will save us from ever feeling the pain that comes from losing a loved one, but I can’t.  That’s not God’s fault, but ours. As sinful human beings living in a sinful world, we will experience pain, death, loss, and mourning. But in those moments, when all seems lost, remember that, in our mourning, Christ is there with us. He lifts us up with comfort, lifts us up with hope, and lifts us up with the fellowship of our brothers and sisters in Christ. It’s in those moments when we encounter the crux of our faith, and rely on that to give us the strength to carry on. Even in our darkest hour, Christ gives us a way to be blessed and move forward with him. May we all be willing to face that darkest hour with confidence in our eternal God, and draw from his eternal love to provide us the comfort, hope, and fellowship we need to walk with him for all eternity. To God be all glory, honor, and praise, amen.