The Blessing of Mourning
In the Beatitudes, the list of attitudes that Christ instructs us to exemplify, mourning is second on the list (Matt 5:4). Often, mourning is perceived as negative or somber. However, when we keep in mind the complete work that Christ has done, mourning has a proper place in our lives and develops valuable character qualities in us. Mourning does have some sorrow connected to it, but David tells us that sorrow only lasts for a short time and it is followed by great joy (Ps. 30:5). Today, mourning might describe your current perspective. The good news is that we have a comforter, the Holy Spirit, who comforts us when we are honest about our situation and provides forgiveness and healing (John 14:26, Prov. 28:13).
Asking God for forgiveness takes great courage, but when we take that step, we receive an overwhelming and unforgettable sense of freedom. If there is anything you need to ask God’s forgiveness for today, I encourage you to take the following three steps in faith.
First, admit you failed. So much positive growth comes out of failure. If we never fail, it’s likely that we will never learn certain valuable life lessons. It’s what we do after we fail that is important! Take a moment and simply ask God to forgive your failure, without excuses. Second, hold yourself accountable for your behavior. Changing habitual patterns is very difficult without accountability. Personally, I find great freedom in being held accountable. Many people are involved in the details of my life: they know my schedule, where I am going, how I spend my time and money, where I have been, and who I am with. My life is out in the open and I welcome that. Genuinely repentant people set up ways to avoid their previous behavior and bring others into their circle who will make sure they stay the course. Third, do the hard work of changing. Research tells us that people significantly change every five years. I know that I have grown because of intentional decisions I have made along the way. One of the things I love so much about college life is that people change through the education process in the most positive way. We have to give people the grace to change and pursue change in our own lives as well.
Today, we honor the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who said, “When our days become dreary with low-hovering clouds of despair, and when our nights become darker than a thousand midnights, let us remember that there is a creative force in this universe, working to pull down the gigantic mountains of evil, a power that is able to make a way out of no way and transform dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows”. Perhaps you are in a place of despair and mourning. Be encouraged that Jesus can turn your dark yesterdays into bright tomorrows.
Jesus, thank you for blessing those who mourn. Help our mourning turn to joy as we let go of our past, repent of our failings, and fully trust you with our future. Amen.