Sunday, October 21, 2007

Happy Are The Unhappy

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Matthew 5:4

[As I mentioned last week, my blogs on the Beatitudes will be a recap of Keith's messages delivered each Sunday.]

All the "blesseds" of the beatitudes are counter cultural, but this second one presents the greatest contrast. Jesus says there is a blessing that comes with a condition. The condition is mourning -- the blessing is comfort.

Contrary to what we may think, the opposite of mourning is not laughter but instead denial. Comfort will remain illusive until we come to grips with the human condition. Since sin entered this world tears and sadness have been our companions.

Spiritual and emotional pain is catalyzed by at least three events. First, we experience the negative consequences of living in a fallen world. Things happen that are not our fault. Loved ones die, jobs are lost, sickness infects our body, and our world is turned upside-down in a blink. Terrible, cruel, and unexplainable things happen because the world is no longer in the order that God originally created.

We have all learned the hard way that people can inflict us with deep pain. Sometimes it is unintentional, friendly fire. Other times spiritual and emotional blood is let by a premeditated attack. When we experience pain the Evil one crouches at the door of our heart ready to pounce. Pain draws him like a magnet draws metal shavings. Pain, whether intentional or unintentional, may open the door to bitterness against people and God.

If you are reading this it comes as no surprise to you that we are also the victim of our own choices. Consequences of our own sin can bring a deluge of pain. As the old saying goes, You can make any choice you want, but you can't choose the consequences. Yes, we live in a world where we are destined to experience pain -- sometimes due to our own choices.

So what do we do? Well, we can live in denial, or we can accept the reality that sin -- no matter where it comes from -- gravely wounds us. We can come to the humbling conclusion that there is no human remedy to our dilemma, because at its deepest root pain is a spiritual problem that goes back to the Garden of Eve. Spiritual problems require a spiritual solution. Jesus' radical beatitude brings us to a crucial decision. Will we recognize our pain. Will we receive God's help? In the midst of our mourning will we go to God? For those who do -- God promises comfort.

Happy are the unhappy.

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