“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:4
Grief is the strangest place to live. One moment I am happily moving through my day, possibly even thoroughly enjoying the elements of that day, and the next I’m plunged into sorrow and tears and missing Becky. I think this process of ‘being’ in grief has shown me how seldom life is as linear and black and white as our western minds like to pretend.
One of the things I love about studying the Bible is seeing the way the Middle Eastern mind works. Often as I study I’m presented with two ideas living together that at first glance seem to be completely opposed. For instance the phrase in Matthew 5:4 that says “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” apparently weds two completely opposed concepts. Blessed could just as aptly be translated ‘happy’ or more accurately ‘supremely happy’. The phrase could be read “Supremely happy are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Supreme happiness and mourning don’t seem to go together. Happiness and life; happiness and wealth; happiness and family; happiness and plenty; I can see how those things might be wed, but happiness and mourning?
There is a deep truth here. In the midst of this season of mourning I have been comforted. Over and over again in a multitude of ways I’ve been comforted. I’ve received comfort from family and friends, from shared grief with Steve and the girls, from books, from my own writing, from walking and feeling alive, from the provision of the Lord for Jacob and our granddaughters, from scripture, and from a quiet, but clear sense of being loved by the Lord.
The Greek word Parakaleo translated ‘comforted’ in Matthew 5 is the same word Jesus used to describe and name the Holy Spirit in John 14 and 16. The Holy Spirit is our comforter, our counselor, the one called alongside of us. As I consider this strange grieving life, I’m very aware of a foundation of well-being and comfort within which the pain of grief flows. I attribute this well-being and comfort to the work of the God of all comfort working through the Holy Spirit in my life.
“And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you.” John 14:16-18