“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they who mourn, for they will be comforted.” (Matthew 5: 3-4)
The second Beatitude that Jesus proclaims in the Sermon on the Mount may sound odd to us when we first hear it. And it should. All through the Gospel, we hear Jesus telling those around Him, “Do not be afraid. Do not worry. Do not weep. Peace be with you.” So, given those commands, how can He say that blessed are those who mourn?
Cale Clarke spent a segment of The Cale Clarke Show breaking down the second Beatitude and explaining just what exactly Jesus means by this statement.
Cale began by explaining that the key to understanding this part of the Sermon on the Mount can be found in the Book of Isaiah:
“[The Lord] has sent me to bring good news to the afflicted, to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives, release to the prisoners,
To announce a year of favor from the LORD and a day of vindication by our God;
To comfort all who mourn; to place on those who mourn in Zion a diadem instead of ashes,
To give them oil of gladness instead of mourning, a glorious mantle instead of a faint spirit. They will be called oaks of justice, the planting of the LORD to show his glory.” (Isaiah 61:1-3)
Gladness and joy are not disconnected from the concept of mourning. But that still sounds like a paradox, doesn’t it? How can you rejoice in joy with those who mourn? This idea shows up not only in the New Testament, but also multiple times in Genesis, Jeremiah, 1 Chronicles, Job, and, as we already established, Isaiah.
Well, before Jesus the Messiah became man, the rabbis used to refer to Him as “the Comforter”. When He comes, He will comfort the righteous. That was part of Jesus’s mission.
“Despair is really not the end of the story. Whenever we’re in mourning, that is the occasion when God can create new spiritual senses in us,” said Cale. “These situations can help you to experience God in a way that you never did before: a new dimension of the presence of God in your life, and it’s when you’re mourning.”
Cale referenced the famous Five Stages of Grief as realized by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. But Kübler-Ross left out the two supernatural stages of grief: Blessed and Comforted. Those two we can’t adopt on our own. Those are gifts bestowed by God in our darkest times of sadness and mourning. They are the products of a supernatural outlook at the sorrow we experience, but we cannot attain them without His help.
Chris Castaldo is a Christian pastor who would often teach about what he calls the “Upsilon Vector”. Upsilon is a letter of the Greek alphabet that looks very similar to the lowercase letter u in the English alphabet: it begins high, dips low, and then returns to a high point on the other side. The Upsilon Vector is a way of understanding the cycle of suffering and joy that we experience throughout life.
When we are at our high points, there will always be something to bring us down to a lower point, for there cannot be good without bad and there cannot be bad without good. But when we are at our lowest, there is only one who can bring us out of our misery and pain: God. We will come out on the other side of all difficult times if we allow Him to set us on our feet again. If we cooperate with His plan, our mourning shall become gladness, and we shall be called “blessed”.
Tune in to The Cale Clarke Show weekdays at 5pm CT