The second beatitude is, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5: 4 For many years I use to believe that this text was talking about loss of loved ones or the pain of separation from someone or something we loved. Though my interpretation may have a secondary truth, it is not what Jesus is revealing to us.
The word mourn is the strongest word in Greek for mourning. It is used in the sense of mourning for the dead. This verse refers back to the first beatitude, “blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of God.” Matthew 5: 3 Just as we are to understand that the “poor in spirit” means to be emptied of selfishness and pride that keeps us from accepting the grace of God, so the idea of “blessed are those who mourn” is to be seen as mourning over a loss of fellowship with God. When we understand how far away we have drifted from God’s grace and what a mess we have made of our spiritual lives we can only mourn over the loss and separation we experience by our separation from Him.
This idea of mourning is what set David apart from the disaster he made of much of his life. In the Psalms you can feel the intensity of a man who has cut himself off from God, but longs to renew that relationship. He cries out for repentance and forgiveness of his sins and selfish pride. King Manasseh lost his kingdom, his freedom, and his relationship because of his stubborn pride and refusal to listen to the leadings and guidance of God. But what is wonderful and amazing in both these stories is that God didn’t leave them in their misery and brokenness.
When the full understanding of what they had done came upon them they cried out to God for forgiveness and restoration. 2 Chronicles 33: 12, 13 tells us that Manasseh, “when he was in distress he entreated the favor of the Lord his God and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. He prayed to Him, and God received his entreaty and heard his supplication and brought him again to Jerusalem. Then Manasseh knew that the Lord was God.” What an amazing turn around for a man who was so enamored with the Canaanite idols that he even sacrificed his sons to them. (v.6) When men like David and Manasseh mourned over their wasted lives and their separation from God they went to Him in prayer begging for forgiveness and God heard them, and God forgave them.
When we mourn over the things that separate us from God and come to God with an open heart, He is more than willing to stretch out His nail pierced hands to lift us up. I love it that Jesus promises when we mourn we will be comforted. Our comfort does not rest on who we are or even on the fact that we mourn, but on the Grace of God. We are blessed by God when we mourn and He comforts us. Our comfort comes from the assurance of the forgiveness of our sins. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished upon us.” Ephesians 1: 7, 8
No matter what our past mistakes and sins, when we come before God with a contrite heart, He forgives and forgets our past. He wraps His arms around us as prodigal sons and daughters who have come home. And the wonderful thing about it all is that He never lets us go; He holds us in the comfort of His arms.