(Matthew 5:4; Luke 6:21)
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
The word “blessed” means to be happy, to be envied, to be specially favored by God. But there is nothing happy, or enviable about mourning, nor is there anything particularly special about it; everyone experiences it at one time or another in their life. The same is true for weeping, in fact even more so, and yet in Luke 6:21, Jesus tells his followers, “Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh.”
It’s not the sorrowing or weeping that makes us blessed, but rather the joy that we will have later on. We are blessed now because God will one day transform our sorrow into joy. (Jeremiah 31:13)
Jesus also goes on to say, “Woe to you who laugh now, for you will mourn and weep.” (Luke 6:25) – This truth is much more jarring when looking at the situation in reverse, but that is the whole point. We need to be jarred out of our sense of complacency with the way things are going and realize that there is a world beyond the present. Jesus is warning us not to seek our consolation and happiness from the things of this world, but instead to seek them from God himself. He is the God of all comfort (2 Corinthians 1:3) and the source of all joy. (Psalm 16:11)
Jesus speaks of these things within the context of “now” versus “later,” but what is “now?” and when is “later?” In scripture these terms can have multiple levels of meaning. “Now” was that particular moment in time when Jesus was speaking to the crowd, a moment which has already come and gone. “Now” also refers to this present age – the time before Christ returns to establish his kingdom on earth. And for us as individuals, “now” represents the opportunity that God gives each of us to seek him while he may be found, and to call upon him while he is near. (Isaiah 55:6) This opportunity accompanies us day after day, moment by moment, in times of both sorrow and joy, throughout the entire journey of our lives – up until that final moment when the present collides with the future, “now” bumps into “later,” and the opportunity to seek God is lost.
There is a point in everyone’s life when they will pass on from this present existence. If our faith is in Christ, we have the assurance that he will lead us beyond that point and accompany us into an eternal existence, one where grief and death will be no more.
For the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd. He will lead them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. (Revelation 7:17)