Our culture seems to be getting more sensitive. I remember my mother teaching me, “Sticks and stones may break my bone, but words will never hurt me.” She sought to prepare me for an offensive world. People say mean, insensitive things, and as a chunky kid I had to be prepared to endure the insults. However, many have abandoned the pursuit of thick skin, and instead are trying to make the world inoffensive. Protests, wailing, and weeping abound as people clash over words, ideas, and offense.
Jesus calls us to live radically different than the world. “Love your enemy,” “Seek first the Kingdom,” and “Turn the other cheek,” all come from his great Sermon on the Mount. Jesus began that lesson with the Beatitudes, a series of blessings based on Christian virtues. Among those blessings he said, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matt 5:4).
Weeping and mourning are a part of life. But a lot of people cry over spilled milk and broken fingernails. In his sermon on the mount, was Jesus talking about any trivial crying when he said, “Blessed are those who mourn?” Surely not. Who are the blessed mourners?
God created the earth to sustain and support life. When Adam sinned, death entered the world, and the earth became a hostile environment. Death, disease, and natural disasters began to define this fallen world, and man learned sorrow. Deep sorrow. Certainly, those who mourn over the fallen world have a legitimate reason for crying.
As the world grew more hostile, the people also became more sinful. Sin seeks to control our lives (Rom 6:12); oppresses us (John 8:34); and separates us from God (Isa 59:1-2). We lament the state of mankind because the vast majority of people are marching to hell without concern (Matt 7:13-14).
Perhaps the most poignant cause for weeping is our own sin. When a person recognizes his faults and failures before God, it’s traumatic, as it was for Peter (Luke 22:62). Sin jeopardizes our eternal welfare. As sinners, we justly deserve eternal punishment. When our sin was revealed, sorrow led us to repentance and a quest for God’s justification. Yet, even after baptism, sin threatens us. So, we mourn our sad condition, and the continued temptation to sin.
When we weep over our spiritual weakness, Jesus promises us comfort. That comfort comes from knowing our sins are forgiven. Paul summed it up, “Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord!” (Rom 7:24-25a).
Our bitter tears are sweetened through the blood of Jesus. And that is something worth crying about. Sam Dilbeck