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Matthew 5:4: Happy are the sad!

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”

It sounds like a paradox to say, “Happy are the sad,” but that’s exactly what it says, “Happy are they that grieve!"

“How happy are those who know what sorrow means for they will be given courage and comfort!” (Matthew 5:4 Phillips).

“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you” (Matthew 5:4 The Message).

Sick humor is not funny! Making light of someone’s tragedy is not funny! Drunkenness is not funny, there are too many broken homes, lives ruined, and children left without a parent for drunkenness to be funny. Adultery and fornication is not funny. Ask the wife of an adulterer if she thinks it’s funny!

If you want to now a person’s character, find out what makes him laugh and what makes him cry. What makes us laugh or makes us cry is an indicator of our values in life. Our values are a part of growing up. Little children will cry over matters that seem so trivial, or laugh at things that seem so stupid.

I read about a train accident in Great Britain. A number of passengers were killed. They found a mother who was dead with her live baby still in her arms. When the rescuers took her away from her mother, she laughed and played, but when they took away her candy she had a terrible tantrum, weeping and screaming. The fact that her mother was dead didn’t faze her because she knew nothing about death, but she did know about candy.

This means, the higher you go in life, the more vulnerable you are to sorrow and grief. If you never mature intellectually, you may not ever experience sorrow. Everyone seems happy in mental institutions.

Jesus never tries to avoid the sorrows of life. He was “A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). He did not deny that sorrow existed, He transformed them, saying that His grace is sufficient to carry us through any circumstance in life. (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Psalm 56:8, “Put my tears into Your bottle; are they not in Your book?”

Tears are a language God understands by Gordon Jensen:

Often you wonder why tears come into your eyes,

And burdens seem to be much more than you can stand?

But God is standing near, He sees your falling tears,

Tears are a language God understands.

God sees the tears of a brokenhearted soul.

He sees your tears and hears them when they fall.

God weeps along with man and takes him by the hand,

Tears are a language God understands.

When grief has left you low it causes tears to flow

And things have not turned out the way that you had planned

But God won’t forget you His promises are true

Tears are a language God understands.

God sees the tears of a brokenhearted soul

He sees your tears and hears them when they fall

God weeps along with man and takes him by the hand

Tears are a language God understands.

Verse 4a: “Blessed are those who mourn…”

The Greek word for mourn is pentheo, meaning, sorrow, sadness, grief, or to lament, and even to feel guilt. It denotes loud mourning such as the lament for the dead or for a severe, painful loss. It is grief and sorrow caused by profound loss, especially death.

Pentheo can also reflect an outward expression of sorrow. It is to experience sadness or grief as the result of depressing circumstances or the condition of persons and so to be sad, to grieve, to bewail or to lament.

“Pentheo is defined as the kind of grief which takes such a hold on a man that it cannot be hid. It is not only the sorrow which brings an ache to the heart; it is the sorrow which brings an ache to the heart; it is the sorrow which brings the unrestrainable tears to the eyes. Here then indeed is an amazing kind of bliss: Blessed is the man who mourns like one mourning for the dead.” –Barclay

“In Greek there are nine words that express sorrow, but that of the nine terms used for sorrow, the one used here (pentheo, mourn) is the strongest, the most severe. It represents the deepest, most heart-felt grief, and was generally reserved for grieving over the death of a loved one.” –MacArthur

If we are to understand the comfort of God, we must understand the three kinds of sorrow that come to us in life.

1. Natural sorrow. A sorrow that comes to everyone, rich and poor, young and old, sorrow is no respecter of people. Some people would have us believe that Christians should never experience sorrow. God gives us the ability to cry because there is healing in tears. Mourning is an expression of love. When the pain is internalized it poisons the whole system. Many times at funerals I’ve heard people say, “Don’t cry,” when the best thing for them is to cry. Tears are an emotional outlet, God’s way of helping to relieve the pressure. But as Christians we must always remember, that we do “not grieve like people who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13).

Bible people cried:

Abraham wept when Sarah died, “Sarah lived one hundred and twenty-seven years; these were the years of the life of Sarah. So Sarah died in Kirjath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her.” (Genesis 23:1,2).

David wept when Absalom died, “Then the king was deeply moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate, and wept. And as he went, he said thus: “O my son Absalom—my son, my son Absalom—if only I had died in your place! O Absalom my son, my son!” (2 Samuel 18:33).

Rachel wept over the death of her children. “A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.” (Jeremiah 31:15 NLT).

Jeremiah the weeping prophet wept over his people, “Oh, that my head were waters, and my eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!” (Jeremiah 9:1).

Jesus wept at the grave of Lazarus, “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). And he wept over Jerusalem, “But as He came closer to Jerusalem and saw the city ahead, He began to weep” (Luke 19:41 NLT).

The woman who wiped Jesus’ feet with her tears, “And behold, a woman in the city who was a sinner, when she knew that Jesus sat at the table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of fragrant oil, and stood at His feet behind Him weeping; and she began to wash His feet with her tears, and wiped them with the hair of her head; and she kissed His feet and anointed them with the fragrant oil” (Luke 7:37,38).

Mary Magdalene wept when she thought Jesus was dead, “But Mary stood outside by the tomb weeping, and as she wept she stooped down and looked into the tomb” (John 20:11)

Paul wept with his friends at Ephesus, “And when he had said these things, he knelt down and prayed with them all. Then they all wept freely, and fell on Paul’s neck and kissed him, sorrowing most of all for the words which he spoke, that they would see his face no more” (Acts 20:36-38).

Timothy wept, Paul writes him, “I thank God, whom I serve with a pure conscience, as my forefathers did, as without ceasing I remember you in my prayers night and day, greatly desiring to see you, being mindful of your tears, that I may be filled with joy” ( 2 Timothy 1:3,4).

British Prime Minster, William Ewart Gladstone (1809-1898), a big, powerful man wept over a poor street sweeper’s wife.

Henry Ward Beecher said, “I only knew of 2 men who never cried, one is in an insane asylum, the other is in prison.”

Death is sure, and no matter how prepared we are by the knowledge that a loved-one is dying, we are never really ready for the loss. None of us want to think about dying, most of us do not want to die, not necessarily because we fear death, but we fear is that we have never really lived!

What do you say to a person who is mourning? Never forget that God’s word says, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23:4). Even though we now as Christians we will go to be with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8), there is still a “valley” and a “shadow.” But you cannot have a shadow without light! Jesus is that light!

If you do not know them well, saying nothing is a good rule. Be supportive, offer practical help, if you are close to them offer to pray.

Do not say, “This is God’s will.” “God took them because he wanted them there with Him.” One preacher said to a young couple who had lost a baby, “God took your baby because if the way you have been living.”

What if the deceased was not a believer? Talk about their good life, that they were a good father or mother. Express how thankful you are to have had so many years with them. Let them know that they did all they could for their loved-one. Or perhaps the best thing is to say nothing. Just put your hand on their shoulder, or hold their hand. The important thing is that you are there with them in their time of grief.

2. Unnatural sorrow. Godly sorrow heals, unnatural sorrow makes the wounds deeper.

Edgar Allen Poe wrote “The Raven” out of grief for his dear Lenore, who died after 11 years of marriage. The raven spoke only one word, “Nevermore!” That one word that was a cry of the despair that Poe was feeling. The last stanza reads:

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting

On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;

And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,

And the lamp-light o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;

And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor

Shall be lifted—nevermore!

Unnatural sorrow refuses to be comforted. This is the sorrow of those who just can’t let a loved-one go! I have conducted funerals where people are so grieved that they throw themselves into the casket, fall in agony on the floor, some were so distraught they had to be carried out. Others have said, “I’m sorry mom,” “I’m sorry dad,” “please forgive me.” They are expressing feelings of guilt about the way they have failed their loved-one in life, but it’s too late now! A lot of moms and dads get more attention after their gone than they ever got in life. Many provide elaborate funerals, with very expensive caskets, and thousands of dollars in flowers. Give those flowers while they are still here to appreciate them!

3. Supernatural sorrow.

This blessing is not upon all that mourn, but upon those who mourn in reference to sin. In context, Jesus is calling for mourning over one's sins (and the sins of the world), for those sins have brought and continue to bring death. Obviously, this mourning is not like that of the sinner who howls loudly when its sins find him out. “For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death” (2 Corinthians 7:10).

This godly sorrow is a logical result of the first Beatitude, “Blessed are the poor in spirit.” When a person admits his spiritual bankruptcy, he can respond in four ways:

1. He can deny his spiritual bankruptcy and like the Pharisees, put up a good front. This leads to a life of deception. This person uses all his energy to keep up the pretense.

2. He can admit his spiritual bankruptcy and try to change things on his own. This would be a case of the poor helping the poor, the blind leading the blind.

3. He can admit his need and so despair over it that he gives up completely. This the sorrow of the world that brings death. (2 Corinthians 7:10). When Judas realized his sin, he committed suicide (Matthew 27:5). When Peter realized what a sinner he was he went out and wept (Luke 22:62). That’s the difference between godly sorrow and worldly sorrow.

4. The logical and scriptural thing to do when we see our spiritual need is to turn to God. The person who is sincerely “poor in spirit” will mourn over sin, and through repentance will experience God’s comfort.

1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”

Acts 3:19, “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.”

Proverbs 28:13, “He who covers his sins will not prosper, but whoever confesses and forsakes them will have mercy.”

Distinguish between regret, remorse, and repentance.

When I just think about my sins, and bad things I have done, that’s regret. I may be sorry, even hate myself for doing it, “I’m sorry, but only sorry that I got caught!”

When it effects my mind and my heart, and I begin to focus on the consequences of my sin, that’s remorse. Remorse is very dangerous, Judas was so remorseful that hung he himself.

When it affects my mind, heart, and will, and get serious about what I am doing, then I will turn from my sin and experience genuine repentance. The word, “repent” means to change one’s mind, literally, to turn around and go the other direction.

A Sunday school teacher asked her children’s class to define repentance. One child answered, “Being sorry for my sin.” Then another child said, “Being sorry enough to quit.”

The Prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32) is a good example. His mind said, “How many of my father’s hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!” His heart said, “I’m sick of this situation.” His will said, “I will arise and go to my father.” Had he sat in the pigpen thinking, “How foolish I have been.” That would be regret. Had he thought about his sins, and hated himself for doing what he had done, that would be remorse. When he said, “I will arise and go to my father, that’s repentance.

Verse 4b: “…for they shall be comforted.”

Those who mourn over their sin and their sinful condition are promised comfort. God allows this grief into our lives as a path, not as a destination.

This comfort has to do with salvation. In Luke 2, when Mary and Joseph went to Jerusalem to present baby Jesus in the temple. There they met a righteous man named Simeon. It is said of this man that he was waiting for the Consolation of Israel (Luke 2:25). What is this consolation? It is comfort received by a person after a loss or disappointment. It was the salvation of Israel. He was waiting for Israel to be saved by God as it was promised in the Old Testament. Jeremiah 31:13, “Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old, together; for I will turn their mourning to joy, will comfort them, and make them rejoice rather than sorrow.” 2 Thessalonians 2:16, “Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace.”

It was this mourning that came out of the heart of David, “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered…When I kept silent, my bones grew old through my groaning all the day long” (Psalm 32:1,3).

David was in deep agony until he confessed his sin.

“Happy is the man who confesses his sin. Happy is the man who repents. That's the comfort he's talking about. It's the comfort, listen, that comes in forgiveness. When the sinner comes to the place of recognizing spiritual bankruptcy, when the sinner comes to the place of grief, deep grief, deep sorrow over sin, and comes before God in penitence and asks for mercy and grace, he receives the comfort of forgiveness...the comfort of forgiveness.”–John MacArthur

2 Corinthians 1:3 NLT, “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort.”

Job 5:11, “He sets on high those who are lowly, and those who mourn are lifted to safety.”

John 16:7 KJV, “Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.” The Greek word for “comforter” is Parakletos meaning, “one called to the side of another.”

The Comforter will rush to the believer’s side when sorrow comes. Whether sin or loss of s loved-one, the Holy Spirit is the one called to bring comfort.

I conducted a funeral for a 3-year-old child many years ago. This child, named, Teresa, was the baby of a family of 8 children. The mother was so distraught that the funeral director thought, she would need to be carried out of the church after the funeral. However, after the “Comforter” came to her and she was calm and composed. That’s the power of comfort for the believer.

Unless otherwise noted, the New King James Version of the Bible was used. Also The New Living Translation (NLT); The New American Standard Bible (NASB); The Message (MSG); The New Century Version (NCV); The Amplified Bible (AMP); The King James Version (KJV), The New Life Version (NLV); English Standard Version (ESV); J.B. Phillips New Testament; Easy to Read Version (ERV); Common English bible (CEB); NET Bible (NET) and The Living Bible (TLB). Contemporary English Version (CEV).

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