Devotional: September 22, 2020
“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.”
Matthew 5: 4 The Message
The second Beatitude, “Blessed are those who mourn”, touches all of us at one time or another in our lives. As Ecclesiastes 3 reminds us, there is a time for each of us to weep, and to shed tears. Grief is part of life.
Perhaps more than other years, this is the year when we have lost countless things. Freedom to enter stores without masks. Freedom to shake the hands of strangers, and to give hugs to friends. Freedom to have confidence that nothing could stop or slow our economy. Freedom to travel. Freedom to gather in large groups. Freedom even to worshiping with ease, and without restrictions. There are so many things we have lost this year.
Yet, the truth is that we all have seasons like that in our lives. Jeana recently found out that one of her classmates lost her only sister, her father, and several close relatives, almost all within the same year. On top of all those losses, her marriage ended after 15 years and two daughters, which are her blessings. What an overwhelming loss for one person’s shoulders.
Often when we lose someone or something so dear to us, we do not feel very blessed. At first, we may feel nothing but numbness, or shock. Later, there is pain, and perhaps crying in the night. Some feel abandoned and alone… or at least lonely. What makes this beatitude so difficult to understand is that at those moments, the last thing we are feeling is anything but blessed.
Yet precisely when our losses and burdens feel like they are going to drag us into the deepest, darkest part of the valley, Jesus tells us we are truly blessed. Not later, when things are better, but at that very moment.
The famous quote from Alfred Lord Tennyson, “tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all”, is in a sense reminding us of what this beatitude is all about. We don’t know what our life might have been like without that person or thing in our life. Thus, without realizing it at the time, we were blessed without even being aware of it.
When we have lost what is most dear to us, many of us want to be held. We want that more than anything. Here, Jesus promises to embrace us. For those of us with faith, the embrace of the Lord is not a hug from a stranger. Rather, it is more like the heartfelt bearhug from an old friend: the friend who is closer than a brother, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
My heart goes out to all those who have experienced devastating losses, especially these last few months. Some have lost loved ones, and many without even being able to embrace them during their final moments here on earth. Others have watched wildfires consume their homes, and all or most of their earthly possessions. Still others have watched their jobs, savings, and even careers just vanish in the pandemic.
During those moments, feeling blessed is usually the furthest thing from anyone’s mind. My prayer is that when you reflect upon those times, you will realize that Jesus had provided all those people, as blessings in your world. Let us pray for and claim the promise of Jesus: that all of us who have lost something so dear to us, will be embraced by the One most dear to us: our loving Savior and friend, Jesus Christ. Amen.
While researching this verse, I stumbled upon a wonderful recording of a choir singing a song based on this beatitude. It is entitled, “Blessed Are Those Who Mourn”, by David Haas. Here is the link:
Blessed Are Those Who Mourn Provided to YouTube by NAXOS of America Blessed Are Those Who Mourn · David Haas I Will Live On ℗ 2015 GIA Publications, Inc. Released on: 2015-01-01 Artist: David Haas Composer: David Haas Auto-generated by YouTube. www.youtube.com
We thank You for the countless blessings in our lives. We are grateful both for the blessings which we notice, and for the ones unnoticed. Open our eyes and our hearts to see and understand the during every hill and valley of our life, You are always blessing us with Your presence. Let us be a blessing to others, so that they will open their eyes to see You. We pray this prayer in Your most Faithful name. Amen