Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. — Matthew 5:4 (NIV)
In my previous post, I talked about how it might be possible to be grateful in the midst of grief. I don’t want to imply that I’m not heartsick about my son’s death. I’m trying to hold two true but seemingly contradictory things in my hands at the same time: I miss my son and am heartbroken that he took his life; I also see in his life overwhelming evidence of the wonder and goodness of God.
His death is tragic, but it also forces me to lean all the harder into the promise of eternity in Jesus Christ, who was murdered and then rose alive again from the tomb. The claim that Jesus rose from the grave is the bedrock on which the whole of the Christian faith rests. And if Jesus is no longer dead, death is not the final chapter of our stories.
So yes, we mourn, I mourn. But I don’t mourn as someone who has no hope.
It is sometimes implied by those who don’t know any better that Christians should meet every hardship and tragedy with joy. I blame Paul. He did write, after all: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4)
But Paul also wrote:
Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. —Romans 12:15 (NIV)
And Jesus himself famously wept when he presented himself at the funeral of his friend, Lazarus, in John chapter 11. There’s nothing about mourning that is inconsistent with Christian faith or practice.
I’m not going to pretend that I’m not hurting. My faith doesn’t require me to put on a happy face at a time like this. Mourning and grief are hard, but they come with a promise of comfort, and Paul also wisely wrote that comfort, which is another form of love, comes from God and is given to us so that we can spread it around to each other. (2 Corinthians 1:3-6)
In this time of mourning, my family and I have been generously comforted by family and friends and the church. I don’t know how it’s possible to go through something like this without a community to support you and pray for you.
It is not a failing of faith to be sad over the loss of a friend or a spouse or a parent or a child. There is no shame in mourning, nor is there a clock ticking down on an “appropriate” time to “get over it.” We mourn deeply when we have loved deeply, and the truth is that when you have experienced real love and poured out much love in return, it hurts terribly when that person you loved is taken away.
We mourn because we are created to form deep and meaningful relationships, relationships built on love, relationships that are ideally full of service and sacrifice, and it hurts when those relationships are broken.
I’ve mourned the death of friends. I’ve mourned the death of my parents. I never wanted to mourn the death of my child, yet here I stand in that sadness. Christ stands with me. Christ mourns with me. Christ promises to comfort me.