By: Jana Greene
Blessed are those who mourn. Hmmm. Grieving kind of feels like the opposite of that.
Mourning and grieving seem nothing like the trappings we equate with blessings. It looks nothing like lightheartedness, or joy pressed down and overflowing, It looks and feels like pain.
Here is the verse in The Message translation: “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.”
Blessed are they who mourn – for they shall be comforted – is what the scriptures say.
Psalm 56:8 puts it this way:
“You’ve kept track of my every toss and turn
through the sleepless nights,
Each tear entered in your ledger,
each ache written in your book.”
When I was a teenager (and a bit of a self-righteous holy roller) my daily prayer was always exactly the same. I would write it down in my journal, so as not to forget praying for one single person. It became a bit of a chant – a laundry list of ‘pleases’ and ‘thank yous.’ The top priority was always this little nugget, always prayed with the same inflection and tone of desperate begging:
“Please, Father, keep all of my loved ones safe and healthy. Build a hedge of protection around them. Please, God, please. Don’t let anything happen to my mom, siblings, extended family…..”
My fear of death for the people I loved most was an absolute obsession of mine. At the heart of it – beneath the words in my journal – was this imploring prayer:
“God, I will not survive it if you take anyone I love, or if anyone I love gets sick. You know it. I know it. Please let each member of my family live long, happy, healthy lives. Amen.”
As long as I prayed the very same thing fervently and (here, God, let me remind you, in case you forgot yesterday) almost chant-like, I felt covered. Insured I’d payed my premium.
I never anticipated that things would turn out the way they did. The estrangements form those I’d loved most and prayed for OCD-style. It never occurred to me that I would one day have to mourn the living. For the sake of my sobriety, I had to erect boundaries, some that require virtual estrangement. I never added the prayer, “Please God let us all get along for the rest of our days,” because there was no way I could have foreseen what would happen in the future. Indeed, those loved ones are still living. I hope they are happy and healthy, too. I still pray for them every day.
If you’ve ever had to mourn a living person, you know it is a slow, laborious process that rips your heart out cell by cell, sinew by sinew, over the course of years. It never gets easier. The betrayal you may feel numbs not one minute of the soul surgery.
Nothing about it seems ‘blessed.’ A person in mourning (for the living or dead) might seem the last you’d imagine as ‘blessed.’
But that person might just be leaning into God in such a way that she melts into his love and provision. That has been my comfort. The melting into God.
And having a father you can melt into like that embodies the very being of the blessing state.
“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.
I’m starting to see a pattern here in the Beatitudes. The emotion of happiness is nothing like the state of blessedness. Not only on the surface, where we are all so used to looking for it. But in the supernatural comfort in the midst of some really shitty circumstances.
Blessedness > pain. It just has to.
See, there’s this thing I cannot live without. – one thing I would not survivt. It trumps loss and grief, because it wraps itself around me and fills me. The One thing that I can never lose or grieve. That thing is Holy Spirit.
So remember, you are not lost, no matter how much loss you’ve had to endure. Papa hasn’t forgotten that you need provision. He cries with us when we mourn.
You will survive. I will survive. It just doesn’t always feel like we will.
Blessed are every toss and turn. Blessed are the sleepless nights.
Blessed be the One who remembers every tear we shed, and records them in our books.
Blessed are those who mourn, for the Father weeps with them.
Blessed are they who trust God through the grief.
And God bless us, every one.