We went to the funeral of a wonderful Christian man last week. It was very sad, but there was a sort of joy there too, to know that he had his reward, and was enjoying the full presence of the God he had faithfully served right to his last moment on earth. His wife was coping remarkably well, buoyed up no doubt, by the prayers and love of others, but also by her own robust faith. And then I read the words of Matthew 5:4, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” She and the rest of her family and friends were finding the truth of that verse – when you lose someone precious, Jesus comes near and holds you close.
Mourning isn’t just about losing people though. We can get really thrown by other losses in life. It might be a job, finance, health, marriage or other relationship, even dignity. It is so good to know that whatever life throws at us, there is a God who cares, who draws near, who comforts, and who helps us find a way through the darkness.
But this word, ‘mourning’ has a wider meaning too. It’s about when you feel really, really sorry about something you’ve done – repentance in it’s deepest form. It’s often paired with weeping. It’s the sort of sorry that flows out in heartfelt tears, when you really know you have messed up, and can’t see a way to put things right.
When you arrive at this point, the good news starts. You will be comforted. Not condemned. Not punished. Not pushed to one side. Not ignored. Comforted.
A child may come, brokenhearted to whisper, “Sorry Mummy,” and be wrapped in its parent’s loving arms. Out of the pit of despair, new hope and restored relationship spring forth so suddenly. Tears of sorrow become tears of joy, just for those two spoken words. It’s really that easy.
Or is it? The cost of the misdemeanour has still to be borne by the parent. But they would have it no other way. So our wrongdoing cost Jesus an inexpressibly painful death on the cross. But he would have had it no other way. He willingly paid the price, to enjoy the experience of holding you in his loving arms while you whisper, “Sorry Lord”. And then he comforts you.