“Blessed are those who mourn…”
This scripture was one of the first to jump out at me as a child, as I sat in church, doodling on attendance cards. I took it with a grain of salt, as if that were truly an option. Surely the writer was mistaken, or perhaps had never faced grief himself.
But then I realized those words were written in red.
And as it turned out, these words were written for me.
Because I had been ‘blessed,’ apparently, and I was still trying to figure it all out.
What the experts might refer to as ‘mourning’ was really just me searching the night sky wondering why all the other Daddies came home after work every night, but mine couldn’t.
Someone once asked me how old I was when I lost my father. I knew the answer. I had heard it all my life. I was six months old and then there was this car accident….
But the question was all wrong.
So I corrected that person.
“I didn’t lose him. I never really had him, and really, I still don’t.”
There is no bolder truth than what is spoken from a heart that’s been reshaped by grief. Because it comes out in all the wrong places, raw and unfiltered, and can’t fully be explained to others.
There is no time limit. It moves you to an alternate universe, a place from which there is no return, far away from everyone and everything you’ve ever known before.
In retrospect, I had it easy. There was no ‘before’ and ‘after.’ I never had to experience that phone call or witness the news reports or hear the doctor use forever words that changed everything. But I’ve been on my knees beside others as they’ve gone through it. I’ve cried endless tears and clinched their hand in mine to keep them from free-falling into the abyss of grief. I’ve watched it all unfold as people move from ‘before’ to ‘after’ through no choice of their own.
None of those who’ve clawed their way through would describe it as a ‘blessing.’
So, I had a tough time with that scripture and those glossed-over words.
But Jesus wasn’t mistaken when he said those words. Trust me.
I read the scripture again, this time as a complete sentence.
Matthew 5:4. “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
For they shall be comforted?
Because the comforting will last as long as the mourning does. And that’s where the blessing comes in.
And Jesus spoke those words as a promise. A commitment.
He will take care of the comforting–if we let him.
The comforting comes in those dark moments in the middle of the night when all we can do is whisper his name.
It comes in the morning, when we make the decision to just get up and get dressed, because that’s the best we can do.
It comes in finding a reason to keep on living.
It comes in making sure there is no one who doubts how we feel about them.
It comes in facing the holidays with a sense of dread, because the joy that used to come so naturally is impossible to find. But we try.
It comes when every new memory is a lonely one.
It comes when people stop talking about our person.
It comes when we sometimes wonder if he ever really existed at all.
Jesus comforts in intensely personal ways, as he whispers over us to prove he knows our story. To prove he is there, in the middle of it, even.
I believe comforting also comes in the way those of us who mourn are drawn to each other.
Like deep calls to deep, when the hole inside of us longs to be with someone who understands; someone who is as plugged into Heaven as we are.
This is truly part of the blessing– finding all the others, so we won’t have to face this alone.
Mourning is asking Jesus to show you what matters most.
Being comforted is finding out the answer.
It’s you and your pain.
You and your person.
You and your story.
The comforting lasts as long as the mourning.
Well, at least 48 years for me, so far.
Daddy – the mysterious man in the picture