This blog post is part of a series of posts that will explore the Atonement by studying Christ’s life in the New Testament. If you want to find the assignments, you can download my eBooks for Matthew, Mark, and Luke. (John coming soon.)
The Atonement and Your Personal Relationship with Christ – Assignment for Matthew 5
“1. Christ has officially begun His ministry here. His ministry is a part of His purpose, His goals, and is the set up to His eventual Atonement. Keep this in mind as we study His teachings. See if you can find how the Savior’s teachings fit into the Atonement, plan of Salvation, and your life, personally.
2. Each thing Christ has taught in this chapter, He has modeled Himself. He is the Exemplar. You may consider studying some of these qualities and finding instances where Christ exemplifies them. For example: poor in spirit. Find a time when Christ was poor in spirit. How can you follow His behavior in your own life?” – New Testament Study Companion: Matthew
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
This is always an interesting concept to me – that we would be blessed for mourning. Sometimes, maybe it is just our culture, I feel pressure not to mourn – that mourning expresses some kind of weakness. For example, when I was at Sean’s funeral, so often I would hear people remark on my parent’s “strength.” I’d hear people say, “Stay Strong,” – as if refusing to cry was a feat of strength; As if not mourning was admirable in any way.
Absolutely “staying strong” is a cultural thing. Yet, here, in Matthew 5, we find that when we mourn, we will be blessed. So, what gives?
Well, I guess that first we need to figure out, exactly what mourning is. In the Topical Guide, we find that it also refers to Despair, Grief, Lamentation, Sorrow, and Weeping. As I searched through the scripture references, I came upon a realization.
Mourning is part of this mortal experience. It sounds obvious, I know, but stick with me for a second. Our souls mourn at the separation from God. Adam and Eve mourned when they were going to be driven out of the Garden of Eden. Leaving God’s presence – physically and spiritually is death and hell. Often, in our lives, mourning has to do with one of those two experiences.
Mourning for Physical, Mortal Reasons
We mourn when someone passes on. We are reminded of our mortality and the shortness of life. We mourn because things change, and we are powerless over them. Without the Atonement, we’d mourn over death forever because we would die and remain dead forever.
Christ comforts us when we mourn – when people die – through His gospel. I’ve been to funerals of people who didn’t believe in the gospel and to those who have. Actually, funerals kind of remind us to believe, I think. It is hard to see someone die, and then just go on thinking, “that’s it. It’s all over for him. He’s not in a better place…he’s in the ground.” It’s unnatural to think this way, really. They say that there are no atheists in foxholes. I can’t say that I’ve met an open atheist at a funeral, either. Usually, our mourning gives way to hope – that the person we are mourning for has graduated on to a “better place.” We mourn for the family and close one of a person who has died – that they will find peace despite the loss. We mourn for our own lives – regrets, shattered hopes and dreams, and the reminder of how incredibly short life really is, and when we mourn, we are usually comforted – we promise to be better people, we promise to live life, we promise value our relationships. Mourning, in these circumstances, often is accompanied with a measure of comfort and hope for the future.
Mourning for Spiritual Reasons
Another way that we mourn can be as a result of sin.
Best case scenario: we sin, then we have godly sorrow because we feel sorry that the distance between us and God has expanded. We feel both the pain that comes as a consequence of sin, and the pain of offending our Heavenly Father – whom we love.
In this case, our mourning will be comforted because we will have a repentant heart. The power of the Atonement will take effect in our lives. We will be forgiven.
In the worst case scenario, we become past feeling. We ignore the response to sin – to mourn, to feel sorry – and instead we harden our hearts. We ignore the promptings of the Spirit. We refuse to mourn. We refuse to express any kind of sorrow – especially Godly sorrow. And we do not, then, experience any kind of comfort. Eventually, we might finally live up to the consequences of such wickedness, then experience the despairing kind of lamentation that is the sorrow of the damned.
In some cases, I think that this sorrow will finally humble us enough to choose to be comforted. However, this isn’t true godly sorrow or mourning. It isn’t the kind that will be met with Christ’s comforting grace.
Christ, in the Atonement, shows this, too. When He experiences the sins of the world in the Garden of Gethsemane, he cries out and He is supported by Angels. He is comforted.
However, Christ still would have to descend below all. He would have to understand the sorrow and helplessness of the damned. On the cross, He cries out “Why hast thou forsaken me,” when he felt a complete loss of connection with Heavenly Father. He understands both death and hell. He understood what those who do not mourn experience – a lack of comfort and companionship.
And, just as the beatitudes promised, Christ was ultimately blessed and comforted. Though he died, his life wasn’t over. Because of His righteous and obedient life, He was comforted through the hope of the resurrection. Because Christ was able to suffer and mourn in this way, He was also able to feel the comfort of the only true gospel, and then, in turn, offer this comfort to each of us.
I’m so grateful for this beatitude. I have felt times in my life when I have needed comfort. They have come in many different ways. When I mourn, I have found, consistently, the Lord comforting me. Sometimes such comfort came through a still feeling – in my heart. Other times, comfort has come through the actions of others. This comfort helps me to maintain my trust in the Lord and continue on the path of discipleship.
How has mourning and being comforted been a pattern in your life? Why do you think that this is something Jesus included in the Beatitudes?