Friday, February 3, 2017

Blessed Are Those Who Mourn

Why do we mourn? What is it that turns our joy into sorrow? We mourn because we recognize brokenness in this world. We immediately see it in the sting of death. We mourn because we have lost someone —  a friend, a parent, a child, a spouse —  to death. I knew a priest who within the span of a few years buried about 10 people in his parish. “Death is something I never get used to,” he would say, “because we are not supposed to get used to it. Death is not a part of God’s original plan for creation.” Death was introduced into the world because of sin. It’s a good thing to not get used to death. It is foreign to our make-up as humans.
Those who mourn shall be blessed because of the resurrection. When we die that is not the end of our life. We shall be raised up again to new life in Jesus Christ on that last day. About the resurrection, Paul writes, "And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain" (1 Cor. 15:14). The resurrection, then, is our great Christian hope. Because it is our great Christian hope, many Christians cross themselves when saying the line in the Nicene Creed, "I believe in the resurrection of the dead." Crossing ourselves while confessing this line reminds us that  I will be resurrected only through the shed blood of Jesus on the cross and his resurrection three days later. Peter in his first epistle reminds us that our new birth is directly tied with Jesus' resurrection. Peter writes, "He [Jesus] has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead..." (1 Peter 1:3). Thus, we may join our voices with Paul and proclaim “O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?” (1 Cor. 15:55).
If you have lost someone to the sting of death, God wants to comfort you: blessed are you who mourn. Because of the resurrection we have in Jesus Christ we will see our friends again. We will feel the warm embrace of a spouse again. We will hear our father or mother laugh again. You will see your child smile again. For those of us who are in Christ, God has promised to raise us up on the last day in the resurrection where we will be reunited with those whom death has prematurely claimed. Because of the sting of death our joy has been turned to sorrow, but in Jesus Christ our sorrow is turned into joy (Psalm 30:5). We are truly blessed, indeed.

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