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Blessed Are Those Who Mourn
By Malcolm B Heap, Midnight Ministries
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n October 2008, a 34-year-old Christian British aid worker in Afghanistan, was assassinated. Gayle Williams was walking to work in Kabul, when she was gunned down by two men on a motorbike.
What was particularly despicable about this act of Muslim brutality is that Gayle was working to better the lives of disabled children in the assassins’ country – something they did nothing to help. She had worked there for 2½ years, unpaid. Her love and care for the disadvantaged was what held her in her job.
"The Taliban claimed responsibility for the killing, saying its leaders had ordered the murder of Miss Williams because she was spreading the Christian message." (Daily Mail, 21-10-08.)
The charity she worked for, SERVE, denied that she had preached Christianity. But you don’t have to open your mouth to offend Muslims. They feel threatened when the Christian message is mobilised. Actions speak far louder than words.
SERVE’s website states that its purpose in Afghanistan is to "express God’s love and bring hope by serving the people of Afghanistan, especially the needy." Gayle admirably did that in the way she knew how.
In contrast, the ‘best’ that Muslim activists can offer to the community are resentful acts of violence and killing that do nothing to better people’s lives.
Gayle practiced Jesus’ words. So her reward is:
"Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world" (Matt 25:34).
"For I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me" (Matt 25:35-37).
"...Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me" (Matt 25:40).
Gayle is blessed now. She is in the heavenly realm, enjoying the pleasure of being closer to God, free from the vileness and vicissitudes of this present evil world. This blessing is to those who are obedient to Jesus’ command to love as Jesus did (Jn 13:35).
There Is A Great Blessing
Another blessing is to those who mourn (Matt 5:4). It sounds strange, even contradictory. But Jesus meant what He said.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted (Matt 5:4).
Gayle’s mother suffers the heartache of losing her daughter prematurely. Such grief is very deep, something that only the sufferer knows fully:
The heart knows its own bitterness and a stranger does not share its joy (Prov 14:10).
But God points out some things that we don’t perceive in the physical:
A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of one’s birth (Eccl 7:1).
The righteous perishes, and no man takes it to heart; merciful men are taken away, while no one considers that the righteous is taken away from [the face of] evil. He shall enter into peace... (Is 57:1,2).
If you could see what the righteous inherit on the other side of the ‘veil’, you would not want to live here any longer. You would want to go there right away. That’s one reason God hides it from our eyes.
Meanwhile, we have duties to fulfil upon earth, preparing us for that destiny. We are to learn to care for people; to learn to love them; and to learn as much as we can about God’s truths and His ways. That will get us ready for the next phase of life, after death – in the spirit realm, not the physical realm.
There is nothing like death to focus the mind more resolutely and realistically upon true values. In real terms, there is so little value in the physical things of this life. They are merely a means to an end, not an end in themselves. And that end is a spiritual one. So,
Better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for that is the end of all men; and the living will take it to heart (Eccl 7:2).
Your end, physically speaking – death – is your point of transition. Your spirit will either go into the blessed state promised to the righteous (Ps 16:11), or to a place of torment with the wicked (Lk 16:22-25).
When a loved one dies, you are not merely sorrowful; you are humbled. In that state, you can draw solace from God, if you care to. Hence:
Sorrow is better than laughter, for by a sad countenance the heart is made better (Eccl 7:3).
Now we can understand this truism:
The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth (Eccl 7:4).
What Mourning Is
John Barr made the statement that: "If you live for yourself, you will destroy yourself and everything around you." It’s true. People don’t see how ruinous their own selfish pursuit is. They might see it in others who live to excess, but Christians don’t see it in themselves.
God commands you to love Him with ALL your heart, not just half of it, loving yourself first and then God second. With that foundation of pre-eminence for God, you can see what mourning is. These footnotes from my Bible on Matthew 5:4 and on 5:3-11 explain:
This Beatitude reflects Isaiah 61:2 and refers to those who mourn because of man’s disobedience to God, as well as for their own sins (5:4).
The first four Beatitudes, or ‘blessed sayings’, portray the ideal HEART condition of kingdom citizens; the latter five present the actions resulting from this attitude of heart. Together they emphasize BEING and LIVING rather than doing, so that the kingdom citizen responds instinctively to various situations as they arise. They revolutionize accepted priorities and the world’s standard of blessedness. The Be- atitudes, so designated because of the form of the statement ‘Blessed are,’ describe the character traits of those accepted as citizens of the kingdom of God and set forth the present and future blessings of those whose lives portray these virtues... (5:3-11, NKJV Believer’s Study Bible.)
When you live for the things of God, you mourn for the state of the world, and for your own sins when you fall short. You want to be with others who love righteousness; and you long for the future life when all sin, evil and wrongdoing will be gone.
We all need more of this godly virtue, so study these examples of this godly attitude:
Daniel, who sought God earnestly because of the sins of his nation (Dan 9 and 10).
Judah’s King Hezekiah, whose life was extended 15 years after he wept before God (Is 38:5).
Israel’s King David, who poured out his heart to God in deep remorse for having sinned (Ps 51).
The prophet Joel’s call to repentance (Joel 2:12-17), after which God delivers (2:18-32).
The book of Lamentations, where it is written:
Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness (Lam 3:22,23).
Jesus’ ancestor, Ruth, who shared in Naomi’s grief because of Ruth’s faithfulness and love (Ruth 1:16-22)
The great prophet Samuel’s mother, Hannah (1 Sam 1:10).
Jesus, who wept (Jn 11:35) because of people’s unbelief.
Jesus was called a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief (Is 53:3). He bore ours (53:4).
All these righteous ones bore grief and sorrow at various times in their lives, and it enabled them to have closer union with God.
Don’t be like the Corinthians, whom Paul had to berate for their lack of repentance and true feeling. They were emotionally barren because of selfishness.
...you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you (1 Cor 5:2).
They were tolerating evil, condoning it, by not contending with a wayward brother who was in gross sin. Evils must be contested, not tolerated! Their complacency was ruinous to the whole body!
What Mourning Is Not
It is not self-pity. It may start with such feelings, but you must graduate and turn those feelings toward God, away from self.
It is not depression.
It is not griping negativism and fault-finding. To indulge in such verbal hurtfulness is demonic. You don’t build yourself up by putting another down.
It is not being disgruntled or dejected for not getting your own way.
All these conditions stem from a self-centred root, one that is totally preoccupied by self. As you turn away from self-orientation, you can direct your sorrow towards God in true repentance and yearning for His righteousness.
God Will Change Whole Nations
But to what shall I liken this generation? It is like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to their companions, and saying: "We played the flute for you and you did not dance; we mourned to you, and you did not lament." (Matt 12:16,17.)
Jesus was not just reprimanding those people then. By ‘generation’, He meant all who have been generated in this evil world of Satan. Evil spirits have killed proper response.
What’s your response like? Is it godly, feeling, caring... or selfish and uncaring? What does it take for God to create hearts that care about His righteousness? For most it is a long hard road, paved with suffering and trials. He says:
I will accept you as a sweet aroma when I bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you have been scattered; and I will be hallowed in you before the Gentiles. Then you shall know that I am the Lord when I bring you into the land of Israel, into the country for which I raised My hand in an oath to give to your fathers, and there you shall remember your ways and all your doings with which you were defiled; and you shall loathe yourselves in your own sight because of all the evils that you have committed (Ezek 20:41-43).
After humbling them, God can bless. He says:
Refrain your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for your work shall be rewarded, says the Lord, and they shall come back from the land of the enemy (Jer 31:16). ...their souls shall be like a well-watered garden, and they shall sorrow no more.. (12) ...I will turn their mourning to joy (13).
Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy. He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him (Ps 126:5,6). & Malcolm B Heap
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