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Monday, March 22, 2010

Journey to the Cross - Blessed Are Those that Mourn

Have you ever mourned? To mourn is to express grief or sorrow. Have you wailed until you thought there were no tears left? Did you wonder if your pain would ever stop? Has your body ached in response to your mourning? Could everyone see the expression of grief in your face?

Today’s devotion is about the comfort we can receive through mourning. The second Beatitude from the Sermon on the Mount says, Blessed are those that mourn. The promise is that God will comfort us.


Morning Meditation



Read Matthew 5:4.

Matt 5:4

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. KJV

Remember your times of mourning. Allow yourself to revisit the pain.
• If you have been fighting mourning, surrender to it.
• Let God comfort you.



Morning Prayer


If you’re in mourning, claim the promise of comfort.
• If you’ve received comfort from God, thank Him.
• If you’ve lost something or someone important but have been avoiding mourning, ask God to help you express your grief and claim your promise.
• Tell God your joys, fears, and needs. Praise Him in everything.
• Pray for knowledge of God’s will for you today and the power to carry that out.
• Ask the Holy Spirit to interpret the scriptures you are about to read.



Morning Bible Study



There was a time in my life when I thought that with enough faith, people could avoid the darkness of mourning. Then, I lost a son. I found out that grief isn’t a sin. It’s a useful emotion created by God and talked about in the Bible. It’s a process that has stages. If grief didn’t hurt so much, it would be interesting.

Compare and contrast the differing translations and paraphrases of Matthew 5:4.
Matt 5:4
Blessed and enviably happy [with a happiness produced by the experience of God's favor and especially conditioned by the revelation of His matchless grace] are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted! AMP

You're blessed when you feel you've lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. The Message

God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted. NLT

Happy the mourning -- because they shall be comforted. YLT

What is the difference in these translations and paraphrases?
• What do you think it means to be blessed?
• What is the promise to those in mourning?


Jesus often quoted scripture when He preached. Perhaps in Matthew 5:3-4, He was quoting prophesy from Isaiah 61:1-2.

Isa 61:1-2
The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, NIV

Think about the first beatitude, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” To whom is the good news in Isaiah 61:1?
• For what purposes is the anointing?
• What is the promise at the end?
• What do you think this scripture is prophesying?


If people live long enough, chances are they will have a turn at mourning. Many try to avoid it. When it is our turn to mourn, mourning is healthy. If we refuse to mourn, we won’t find the comfort we crave. There is an appointed time for everything and as much as we’d like, we refusing these dreary appointments aren't healthy.

Read Ecclesiastics 3:1-4.
Eccl 3:1-4
There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven — A time to give birth and a time to die; A time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted. A time to kill and a time to heal; A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance. NASU

What comes after a time to weep?
• What comes after mourning?


Read the promise contained in Jeremiah 3:13-14.
Jer 31:13-14
“For I will turn their mourning into joy and will comfort them and give them joy for their sorrow. I will fill the soul of the priests with abundance, And My people will be satisfied with My goodness," declares the LORD. NASU

What is the promise?
• What will satisfy us?


The ancient King David struggled with enemies throughout his life. People he loved betrayed him and broke his heart. Always, he turned to God crying out his pain and then his relief. Read Psalms 30:11-12.

Ps 30:11-12
You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness, That my soul may sing praise to You and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever. NASU

What happened to David after his time of mourning?
• To whom does he give the credit?
• What does David do in celebration?


Without mourning, there would be no joy. Let us take our turn and mourn when necessary, always hanging on to the promise that God will turn our mourning into dancing.


Application


Terry never seemed happy. She sought answers through therapy, 12 Step Programs, and church. “I don’t know what’s wrong,” she confided. “It seems like I should be happy and yet I’m not.”

One night, at a retreat, a group of us women began having one of those femininely typical philosophical late night discussions. The topic turned towards abortion. As women offered differing views, Terry grew pale and quiet. The next morning, she asked if we could talk.

We found a quiet place by the water and she shared her story. As a teenager, she had gotten pregnant. “I decided an abortion was best. It seemed easier. After the abortion, I got an infection that caused me not to be able to have children. I told myself it didn’t matter but secretly, I’ve always felt like God was punishing me. This is the first time I’ve talked to anyone about it.”

I held Terry as she sobbed. She finally grieved for her unborn child and for the children she would never have. She released her guilt and accepted God’s forgiveness. The last time I saw Terry, she was glowing. She’d married a widower and adopted his children. Her 12 Step program was finally working and she was addiction free. Therapy was no longer needed. Church became a blessing instead of a constant reminder of guilt. By surrendering to grief, God turned her mourning into dancing.

When we avoid mourning, we postpone our blessing. People try to avoid mourning many different ways, some of them deadly. For today, if it’s your turn mourn, wail and then enjoy the dance.

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