Matthew 5:4 – “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted”
In one of the most profound, and yet paradoxical passages in all the Bible, Jesus declares in Matthew 5:4: “Blessed are those who mourn; for they will be comforted.” This Beatitude flows from the first one: “Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” because spiritual bankruptcy should always lead to spiritual brokenness. It is one thing to recognize that you are spiritual bankruptcy but it’s another to break down and mourn over it, confession should come with contrition. Of all words for mourn Jesus uses the strongest one, which means to grieve or wail when a loved one dies. This is the sorrow of the soul, the ache that causes the heart to break. It’s the picture of those who are gripped by grief, Psalm 34:18: “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
Life can be hard and while we will always be drawn to happiness over hardship, brokenness can bring blessing. God is much more concerned with our character than He is with our temporary conditions. Life doesn’t always hand out laughs and some of its lessons leave scars, but we don’t have to shun suffering. When it comes to Matthew 5:4, there are several arenas in which this Beatitude of brokenness can be lived out, first:
- Lament the losses in your life
We have or we will all experienced excruciating pain at some point in our lives. 1 Peter 4:12 says: “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you.” Maybe right now you are going through a season of suffering, maybe a health issue that causes you to fear the future, or a relational rift that’s robing you of joy. Maybe you’ve lost a loved one or you’re weeping because you desperately desire to have a child and you’re still waiting. Your heart like Hannah’s is breaking, 1 Samuel 1:10, 16: “In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the LORD…I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.” The promise here is not that our circumstances will be changed but that we will be comforted in the midst of our challenges. The One who comes to comfort has Himself faced trials and tears, and walked the path of weeping. When Jesus experienced the loss of Lazarus John 11:35 says: “Jesus wept” While this is the most compact and shortest verse in the bible it is also filled with deep complexity. Jesus wept with Mary and Martha, Lazarus sisters, yet he knew that in a short while he would raise Lazarus back to life. He knew that anguish would turn to astonishment, wailing and weeping would turn to worship, and sorrow would turn to joy. So why was Jesus greatly troubled, why did he break down and cry? Because of His compassion for those stuck in the storm of suffering. He did not take their suffering lightly and He does not take your suffering lightly. Hebrews 4:15 says that Jesus sympathizes with our weaknesses and Isaiah 53:3-4 characterizes Christ as one “despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering…surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows.” Christianity is the only religion that allows us to be real, because it’s based on a relationship not rules. When you’re hurting, let it out, when you feel like crying, let the tears fall. Did you know that God not only cares about our tears but he catches them? Psalm 56:8 says: “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” We have a God who not only cares and understands but comforts.
- Be sorrowful over sin
While we should lament our losses, the basis for this Beatitude is that you and I are sorrowful over our sinfulness. It’s the cry of Paul who summed up his struggle against sin in Romans 7:24: “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death?” This is not just being sorry over sin, but being sorrowful. There’s a difference between being sorry and being sorrowful, one make you feel bad the other mourn, and until we grieve over our guilt, we will never get grace. Sorrow over sin should lead to repentance, 2 Corinthians 7:10 says, “Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” Worldly sorrow does not lead to repentance but to regret and remorse. Regret is when we recall stuff that we’re sorry about, and it happens primarily in the mind as we think and dwell on the past. Regret tends to focus on the sorrow not the sin, and deals more with the heart than the head. Remorse focuses on the sin and the consequences, instead of Christ and the cure. Repentance turns us to focus on the Savior and the solution to sin, remorse cause us to focus on the sin and get stuck. Repentance causes us to turn away from the sin and toward the Savior. It’s the picture of the prodigal son in Luke 15, who after looking at how he was living recognized that he had sinned against his Father. He repented and returned and was met with lavish love and the grace of God even before he make it up the driveway.
- Cry over the condition of others.
Brokenness is not just looking within at our own losses and sin; it also involves looking around and being sorrowful over the sin in our society. It involves crying over the condition of carnal Christians, and the state of those who are not saved. Hebrews 3:13 challenges us to “encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” We need to encourage one another so that we don’t become hardened to sin. Not only can we become carnal Christians but we can become calloused Christians, ones who no longer care and no longer cry. In Acts 20:31 Paul demonstrated his passion for us to live out pure lives when he said: “So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears.” Paul taught with tears, he exhorted with emotion and so should we. In Luke 19, on Palm Sunday, Jesus sees the entire city of Jerusalem in a panoramic view. It was stunning in its beauty and yet verse 41 says: “As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it.” While everyone else was smiling He was filled with sorrow because He saw the sin. He was not sorrowful because He knew He was going to suffer and die, He was heartbroken over the hard hearts, He was wailing loudly for the lost. Do the things that break the heart of God break your heart? When was the last time you cried over carnal Christians and lamented the lost? As we go through seasons of sorrow we need to remember that there can be a gladness to sadness and a purpose in pain. God draws close to those who cry, Psalm 34:18 says: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed” It’s in sorrow that the Savior becomes sweeter. God can use suffering and sorrow to draw us to Himself. We also tend to grow more in the groaning times than in the good times. Romans 5:3-5 reminds us that problems and pain can be profitable: “3 Not only so, but we[a] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” The truth that sorrow can teach us its secrets lessons is captured in the following lyrics
I walked a mile with Pleasure, she chatted all the way
But left me none the wiser for all she had to say
I walked a mile with Sorrow and not a word said she
But oh, the things I learned when sorrow walked with me
Our misery can help us minister to others, 2 Corinthians 1:4 says: “He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” The word comfort here is the same one that is used in Matthew 5:4. Comfort is coming, don’t shy away from sorrow or give up on God, hold on to the hope found in the promises of Scripture. If you are suffering in sorrow today read these passages that have provide great hope and healing to me in my hurts.
Job 16:19-20: “Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high. My intercessor is my friend as my eyes pour out tears to God.”
Isaiah 25:8: “The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The LORD has spoken.”
Psalm 10:14: “But you, O God, do see trouble and grief; you consider it to take it in hand. The victim commits himself to you; you are the helper of the fatherless.”
Psalm 30:5: “For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning.”
Lamentations 3:32-33: “Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to the children of men.”
Revelation 21:4: “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”