Happy are those who mourn --
August 24 2009 by D.E. Parkerson

I was attending the North Carolina Baptist State Convention’s annual meeting in Ashville several years ago when a message scrolled across the message board for me to call home. I sensed that the message I would receive would not be a pleasant one.

A beautiful teenage girl who was a member of our church had been missing for several weeks. The authorities had found her body in some woods several miles from Wilmington. I returned home post haste because I knew her family was heartbroken.

Tragedy sometimes strikes suddenly, doesn’t it? No one wants to ever have the kind of experience this fine family was going through. Yet it happens. Our human resources are totally inadequate at such times and our eyes fill with tears.

It was my responsibility as pastor to minister to the murdered girl’s parents. What does one say at such times? I had no wisdom with which I could wave a magic wand and make their hurt disappear. I did what I was called to do: I sought to be the ambassador of God, who alone could provide the comfort and strength they needed.

In His Sermon on the Mount Jesus said, “Blessed are they who mourn: for they shall be comforted” (Matt. 5:4). Blessed is often translated happy. This verse contains an important truism: one can never be comforted unless he first weeps. Tears cannot be dried until they are first shed. Rainbows never form in tearless eyes.

The person who keeps his emotions — particularly grief — pent up inside never finds release and comfort. However, he who “sows in tears shall reap in joy” (Ps. 126:5). The Psalmist also reminds us that “weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning” (Ps. 30:5).

To understand this Beatitude, remember that it does not promise deliverance from sorrow but rather happiness in the midst of sorrow. Jesus taught, “In the world you have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world” (Jn. 16:33).

Sorrows sometimes come one after another. William Shakespeare, in Hamlet, expressed it this way, “When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions.” At such times we need comfort that Christ alone can give.

The shortest verse in the Bible tells us why this is true — “Jesus wept” (Jn. 11:35). Did any two words ever speak such eloquence? Could any descriptive statement make us appreciate more the humanity and compassion of Christ?

It was at the tomb of Lazarus that Jesus wept, along with Mary and Martha, sisters of the deceased. He could have talked sentimentally about his friend and their brother. But He spoke only with His eyes that were filled with tears. There can be no greater show of love than to weep with those who weep.

In times of sorrow I encourage you to do what the Psalmist did: “In my trouble I cried to the Lord, and He answered me” (Ps. 120:1).

(EDITOR’S NOTE — Parkerson is a native of Georgia, a graduate of Mercer University (B.A.), Southeastern Seminary (M. Div. and Th.M.), and Campbell University  (D.D.).  He has served as pastor of one church in Georgia and five churches in North Carolina. Following retirement as pastor of the First Baptist Church in Sanford on September 30, 1996, he has served nine North Carolina churches as interim pastor. His column, The Paper Pulpit, has appeared weekly in a few newspapers and other publications since 1958.  He and his wife, Jessie, live in Wilmington near their daughter and family.)

8/24/2009 10:16:00 AM by D.E. Parkerson | with 0 comments

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