Where we are all alike
Published 9:25 pm Monday, October 16, 2017
As individuals, we differ from each other in a thousand different ways. We do not all believe alike theologically. Our values are not always the same. Not all of us understand patriotism in the same way. We have different friends. Not all of us know what it is to be unpopular or misused or hungry. Yes, we are different in a thousand different ways.
But there is one place where we are all alike. Everyone of us will somewhere, sometime know the experience of a hurting heart. Sooner or later, the eyes of all of us will be filled with tears. It’s a universal human experience.
Years ago the famed, Joe Lewis, was defending his boxing crown against a daring young challenger. When the challenger was asked about his strategy, he declared that he intended to outrun the champion. Louis’ reply made the headlines on the sports page. Said Louis, “He can run, but he can’t hide.” Life is like that. We can run, but we can’t hide. Life itself eventually forces all of us into suffering and sorrow.
Thus, Jesus is addressing a universal experience when he says, “Blessed are those who mourn…” (Matthew 5:4).
We would have understand it better if he had said, “Blessed are those who are spared the experience of sorrow, suffering and grief.” But that isn’t what he says. Jesus says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
In order to understand what Jesus means here, I have taken the liberty of turning this phrase around and asking the question, “When will the mourner be comforted?”
While there are several possible meanings here, I only want to share one meaning. The mourner will be comforted when he/she mourns for others! Scholars tell us that the Greek word used for “mourn” in this beatitude is the strongest word in the Greek language for mourn. It is the word used to designate mourning for the dead. To mourn then is to care deeply. It is the kind of sorrow that breaks a person’s heart, that can be seen in a person’s bearing, a person’s tears and a person’s actions.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” The comfort promised here is for those who care so deeply for the pain of the world that they are actually driven to do something about it. They are driven to serve humankind.
Needless to say, we belong to a world where pain is all around us. While we go along whistling over the better times of life, someone else is in the throes of illness or calamity or failure. While we are celebrating the joy of a wedding, someone else is hurting with rejection. And while we are enjoying the “pluses” of life, someone else is struggling on the margins of life simply to exist.
In a world like ours, the desperate need is for people who are willing to share the pain of others. Yet, as we know, not everybody is willing to do this. As the late scholar and minister, Ellsworth Kalas, reminds us, “Some people believe that the cost of involving ourselves with the pain of others is too great. Some people say, ‘I’ve got troubles enough of my
“On the other hand, some other people state, “I just don’t know what to say.” In my life and ministry, there have been a number of occasions when I was in a situation where I didn’t know what to say. But what I’ve learned is that it’s really not what we say that counts, it is our presence that counts. What most people need from us is our reassuring hug, our reaffirming handshake or bump of the fist and our listening ear. Most people need us as a friend who cares.
Here’s the wisdom of Jesus! When we mourn for the sorrow of others, we not only bring comfort to them, but strangely, we ourselves are comforted.
Someone ask a renowned psychiatrist, “If you feel like you are coming apart, what should you do?” Surprisingly, the psychiatrist said, “Go to the front door, turn the knob, walk across the street and help somebody.”
As St. Francis prayed, “O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be comforted as to comfort… for it is comforting others that we ourselves are comforted.”
The mourner will be comforted when he/she mourns for others.
Hal Brady operates Hal Brady Ministries in Decatur with the stated goal of presenting the good news of Jesus and offering encouragement in positive ways. halbradyministries.com