Blessed are those who mourn

Farmville Enterprise May 16, 2018

Last week 19-year-old Tripp Wooten, a graduate of Farmville Central High School, died in an automobile accident. Most of us hardly can imagine what his parents, family and friends are going through. We or those we love also might be dealing with some deeply distressing times, and those troubles could be unknown to most.

At the beginning of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus offers hope to his listeners.  “Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. He said: ‘Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.’” (Matthew 5: 1-8)

Later Matthew 9:35-36 continues, “Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

One of my best friends loves to quote Westley, the hero from The Princess Bride film: “Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who tells you differently is selling something.” While it usually consists of way more than just pain, I believe that life is hard. Although it might seem that our difficulties could be considered trivial compared to those who live in extreme poverty or war-torn areas or with chronic physical or emotional pain, I think that even when we enjoy relative comfort and ease the inevitable challenges of this earthly life can be significantly trying. It is important to remember that often we do not know the hurts and stresses that many people around us are facing.

In a book of daily devotions Charles R. Swindoll writes, “Pain humbles the proud. It softens the stubborn. It melts the hard. Silently and relentlessly, it wins battles deep within the lonely soul. The heart alone knows its own sorrow, and not another person can fully share in it. Pain operates alone; it needs no assistance. It communicates its own message whether to statesman or servant, preacher or prodigal, mother or child. By staying, it refuses to be ignored. By hurting, it reduces its victim to profound depths of anguish. And it is at that anguishing point that the sufferer either submits and learns, developing maturity and character; or resists and becomes embittered, swamped by self-pity, smothered by self-will. I have tried and I cannot find, either in Scripture or history, a strong-willed individual whom God used greatly until He allowed him to be hurt deeply.”

In the Beatitudes Jesus teaches that those who mourn or are poor in spirit are blessed. In his compassion, he promises eventual comfort for the hurting. Let us make every effort to be gentle and gracious to one another, especially remembering the fact that we could be encountering neighbors and friends who are suffering silently.

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