Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Blessed are those that Mourn

Blessed are those who mourn—a devo from Matthew 5

As a little girl, I can recall numerous times that my curiosity got the best of me and I broke something. Lamps, mom’s kitchen glassware, Barbie’s heads (what—I wanted to see if she had an esophagus!) even my brother’s little farm machinery (whoops—he may not even know about that one!). But the idea of breaking something devastated me and almost paralyzed me; I felt so horrible. We as people, don’t like the term ‘broken’ and see it as a negative term. We as Christian’s however can have somewhat of a mixed perspective on this word 'broken' because Jesus Christ truly revealed beauty in the broken.

Pastor Rick spoke on the beatitude in Matthew 5 “Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted.” We can mourn ourselves, for loved ones and for people we may not even know. With the Sex-Trafficking Awareness Week on campus last week, he touched a lot on the suffering and the torture that millions, of mostly women and children, experience all over the world—including right here in South Dakota, in sex-trade. We as the body are to mourn and grieve with these individuals and hopefully our tears propel us into helping put an end to it. But for this devotional, I wanted to take a different angle on the beatitude shed some light on how mourning or being broken allows us to be more like Christ.

There are several instances throughout God’s Word that deals with this topic of being broken. In Exodus 32:19, Moses is carrying the Ten Commandments down the mountain after just encountering the Almighty God—still glowing from His glory, and how does he find the Israelites? Partying and worshipping a golden calf. It says in verse 19 that he “threw down” the stone tablets and broke them. Wow. Do you see the silver-lining message behind that action? What is the first Commandment? “Thou shall have no other gods before me”? The word broken, in this sense, represents the pitiful state that we as people are in and how we are so quick to break the Law in which God has given us to honor Him. So maybe this example is not the most encouraging example of being broken but I promise you that as we move towards the New Testament, hope will rise and we’ll see beauty in the broken.

Probably two of my most favorite passages now lie within the book Psalms: Psalm 34 and 147. Psalm 34 is entitled “Taste and See That the Lord Is Good.” I have referenced this passage in previous devotionals on how tangible God is to us and how we can ‘taste, touch, smell, see and hear’ Him. But if you go just beyond verse eight, to verse 17-18 it says “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” The Lord is near to those who mourn and He saves the crushed in spirit; but we are to also cry out in moments of mourning and ask for His help to deliver us. We should be crying out to God right now to deliver the millions of individuals involved in sex-trade and to bring justice to those doing evil. In verse 16, it says that “The face of the Lord is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth.” Ouch! Is not God’s revenge in injustice so much sweeter than ours? Not only does He bring justice, but in Psalm 147, he brings “healing to the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” I know today’s medicine is pretty good stuff, but have you found a remedy for a broken heart? I didn’t think so---but God’s Word says that He can heal the brokenhearted and bind up their wounds.” Wow. Just after that verse it says that God goes onto “determine the number of the stars and gives to all o them their names.” Well, once you put it into that context, mending a heart doesn’t seem so complicated does it? I am not trying to deny the pain and suffering that takes place in our lives but I am saying that hope is beginning to rise with this term of ‘broken’ and it has not even met its climax point yet. Let’s continue to journey to the New Testament.

Pastor Rick touched on the story of Lazarus and how Jesus mourned with his family. A perfect example as to how we are to mourn with others. Christ mourned even knowing that he was going to raise Lazarus in a few days. I think it’s safe to say that it is important for us to grieve with one another. In Matthew 14, Jesus is feeding the five thousand. In verse 19 it says “He broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds.” In a sense, this passage is nothing but a foreshadowing of what was to come in a few more chapters. In chapter 26, Jesus is with his disciples and in verse 26 it says “ Jesus took the bread and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples “Take, eat, this is my body.” And he took a cup and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying “Drink of it, all of you, for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.”

Jesus’ body was broken; his side and his hands were penetrated with a spear and nails. His body was lashed hundreds of times. He was humiliated, mocked and tortured for hours only to be placed on a cross and abandoned to his death. He endured the cross so that you and I wouldn’t have to be ‘broken.’ He united the cliff that separated us from God with the sacrifice of his body. Do you see how there is actually beauty in the broken?

The neat thing about the beatitude “Blessed are those that mourn” is the second part “for they will be comforted.” Comforted. Although you may be experiencing a pain like none other in your life and do not know when the season of grief will end; is it not great to know that you will at least be comforted through it? Do you know that the Lord is near to you during this time, the same one who numbers the stars? The same Lord who fed the five thousand, raised Lazarus from the dead and then died on the cross for you? Do you not think that God is going to take care of you or those who are enslaved to sex-trade? You can mourn and have compassion—it is a part of being a Christ-follower; but do not loose hope and deny the beauty that is within being broken.

I think back to when I broke a glass of my mom’s and how she was upset at first but how much grace and mercy was bestowed upon me later. God’s grace and mercy is all the more abounding than a parent could even try to give a child. Jesus was God’s only son and it is in these times of brokenness that we are more like Christ!


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