When You’re Tired of Mourning
A week ago my husband’s family joined together for a memorial service. Laughter and tears flowed over the life of a woman who was devoted to her family and the Lord.
This wasn’t our first time. In the past year we’ve joined together often, and we know the ritual will only continue. I sat in the pew, filled with grief. Overcome by too many goodbyes, too many surgeries, too much suffering- both past- and to come. I grieved for the sorrows that scroll past my phone each morning, and I grieved for the family and friends who remain blinded in the dark.
Sometimes it seems as if each year brings new facets of grief. New layers build upon the old, and weariness sets in. I grow tired of mourning.
So sometimes, I stop. I scroll past the news, pray rushed prayers, and dry my tears with indifference. Distraction is invited in, and he brings his friend, Cynicism. Together they buffer me when I need it from the pain.
Yet reading through a commentary* on the gospels has left me meditating on one verse. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).
The word blessed here, doesn’t refer to a gifted blessing for those who mourn- but more to mean that those in Christ who mourn hold a state of blessedness. Others translated it more fully as happy are those who mourn.
How could those who mourn be in such a state? The last part has our answer. Because they will be comforted. While we’ve all probably felt the needed comfort from a friend, relative, or spouse, this verse is actually speaking of the Lord as the one who comforts. We who mourn will be comforted by our God. Paul echoes this in his letter to the Corinthians as he names God, the “God of all comfort” who comforts us in all our afflictions (2 Corinthians 2:3-5). What an incredible thought that the Lord of Creation, who fashioned the stars in the sky, the planets in their orbits, and who sovereignly holds the hearts of kings in is hand is the same one who promises that he will comfort his people in their pain.
This beautiful truth should not cause us to delight in our suffering nor to purposefully run towards pain, but it gives us hope and a sure promise when we inevitably find ourselves in the midst of it. The bless-ed will mourn, and will feel the comfort of God.
If we are given such a sweet gift of hope in our pain, perhaps we shouldn’t be so eager to push away our sorrows.
In his commentary on this passage, Kenneth Bailey warned against compassion fatigue- the tendency to dry our eyes and wall our hearts to the injustices and pain around us. He recounted a story about holocaust victim, Anne Frank:
“I once read a book of recollections of Anne Frank compiled by her friends. One witness who was with her in the death camp noted, “her tears never ran dry.” Her body gave out, but her spirit never surrendered to compassion fatigue. To the end she was able to mourn, and she was a bless-ed presence for all who knew her.”
I might be tired of mourning, but I want to keep going a little longer. I want to keep the tears coming for my friends walking painful roads. I want to keep my heart breaking, for the ones who don’t yet know Christ’s goodness. I want to keep grieving for the sin that fills my own heart. And I want to keep weeping as I wait to be reunited with the many saints I was blessed to know in this life.
For in the mourning I will always find his comfort- until my Savior wipes away the final tear.
*Referenced from Jesus Through Middle Eastern Eyes by Kenneth E Bailey
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