Wednesday, April 1, 2009

blessed are those who mourn

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. (Matthew 5:4)

It's hardest when I'm driving because it's not like you can distract yourself too much when driving without the situation becoming very dangerous very quickly. The closest I have been able to come as far as distractions has been listening to podcasts in the car. They take more of my attention than just listening to music most of the time, unless I'm trying to sing along. Most recently Mosaic has been going through the beatitudes. Although I had been putting it off, I finally listened to Blessed Are Those Who Mourn. Despite the fact that it was a little rambling, it caused me to cry 3 or 4 separate times during the course of my 25 minute commute.

First: Mourning involves love and loss. We do not mourn things we love but have not lost, nor do we mourn the things we lose but have not loved. The second of these things is probably more important -- a deep sense of loss is an indication of our humanity, our ability to have deep connection with others, the fact that we are able and willing to love.

Second: We can take the fact that we mourn as an indication the love is stronger than death, because the fact that someone we care for has died does not cause our love for them to cease. The first time I heard (or read) this somewhere else, I thought it seemed like too much of a play on concepts; it seemed in some way too sappy. Now, although it does seem true, I'm not sure that it is meaningful to pit love against death.

Third: Jesus weeps with those who mourn in John Chapter 11. Maybe this is comforting because it reminds us that we are not alone. But the outcome for Lazarus and his loved ones is not the ending I am expecting to get.

Revelations 21:
1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.

According to Erwin McManus, the "no sea" part seems a little arbitrary until you consider the fact that John had been exiled to the island of Patmos, an island with an area of 13 square miles, surrounded by the Aegean sea. Thus the sea must have represented to John separation from everyone else, including those he cared for, those he loved.

I don't know how to deal with the loss of a loved one without telling myself there is hope that one day we will meet again. Particularly, when she was taken so prematurely, seemingly in the prime of her life. In my mind this is why eulogies and memoirs allude to heaven. It's what's necessary to end on an uplifting note.

I am still looking for more of the comfort promised in Matthew 5:4.