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The Beautiful Attitudes – Part II: Blessed are those who Mourn

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. (Matthew 5:4 NET)

The Greek word for blessed (i.e., makarios) used here means being fortunate, prosperous, or successful. That is, successful are those who mourn! Why? When do we mourn? Mourning is the proper reaction to the loss of something considered precious and dear… something or someone that we loved. This may be the loss of a loved one, loss of plans for marriage due to unrequited love, loss of plans for your children’s future as they become rebellious, or loss of career opportunities while being sidetracked in your place of employment for decades, thus effectively wasting your working life, etc. Furthermore, mourning is part of the natural progression as we move through the stages of grief.

Realize that the stages of grief are responses to feelings that can last for minutes or hours as we flip in and out of one and then another. That is, we do not necessarily enter and linearly exit each individual stage. We may feel one, then another, and return to the first as we work through the loss. Someone in grief may feel more than five stages, and that is also normal as grief is unique for each person. Furthermore, do not think of the stages as lasting weeks or months, as each person will uniquely experience their grief in their own time.

Denial (Suspension of Reality)

This first stage of grieving helps us to survive the loss. In this stage, the world becomes meaningless and overwhelming. Life makes no sense. We are in a state of shock and denial. We wonder how if we can go on and perhaps why should we? We try to find a way to simply get through each day. Denial and shock help us to cope and make survival possible. Denial helps us to pace our feelings of grief. Consequently, denial lets in only as much of the loss as we can at first handle.

The other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!” But he replied, “Unless I see the wounds from the nails in his hands, and put my finger into the wounds from the nails, and put my hand into his side, I will never believe it!” (John 20:25 NET)

Our memory, the storage, and recall of information from the past are surely a remarkable, though complex, aspect of God`s design for the human body.

For who among men knows the things of a man except the man’s spirit within him? So too, no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God. (1 Corinthians 2:11 NET)

It requires detailed interaction between the physical body’s senses, the brain, the soul, and, not least, the human spirit. (1)

Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ (Mark 12:30 NET)
Now may the God of peace himself make you completely holy and may your spirit and soul and body be kept entirely blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Thessalonians 5:23 NET)

Trauma can cause a break to these physical and spiritual connections within the body, causing memory loss or distortion. Also, we may consciously or unconsciously choose to disconnect from painful or guilty memories as a coping mechanism. Any such breaks in the rightful flow of memory, especially when chosen, are contrary to God`s order and can allow the enemy to interfere with the complex memory systems within the body, soul, and spirit (6).

Furthermore, prolonged denial can be a choice to not face the truth of sin or inner wounding. The issues of life often cause deep pain and shame, so we try to minimize the discomfort in various ways, including denial. It can seem beneficial to disconnect from the reality of a wounded heart by convincing ourselves that the damage was nothing. That it did not hurt, has not affected us, is forgotten, and does not need God`s healing. We can also do something similar with the sinful choices and the guilty feelings from the past, justifying ourselves or denying the fact of wrongdoing (2). 

Rightful remembrance should be part of normal everyday life.

But remember the former days when you endured a harsh conflict of suffering after you were enlightened. (Hebrews 10:32 NET)
Then he took bread, and after giving thanks he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And in the same way he took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood. (Luke 22:19–20 NET)

Those memories that have been painful cannot be brought to a place of peace with Jesus when we choose not to allow brokenness to be the way (even unconsciously) of dealing with the wounds or sins of the past. Deciding to forget them does not resolve them; it merely buries them in spiritual isolation and darkness. God does not totally wipe out difficult memories but through His healing of wounds and His forgiveness of sin, He removes the nagging remembrance of pain and shame (6).

Joseph (1) named the firstborn Manasseh, saying, “Certainly God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s house.” He named the second child Ephraim, saying, “Certainly God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.” (Genesis 41:51–52 NET)
As for you, you meant to harm me, but God intended it for a good purpose, so he could preserve the lives of many people, as you can see this day. (Genesis 50:20 NET)

We will begin to move out of this phase as we become honest with ourselves about the loss experience.

Anger (Blaming)

Anger is a necessary stage of the healing process. Be willing to feel your anger, even though it may seem endless. Realize all of us experience anger from time to time, and anger in itself is not a sin; how we handle it determines whether we are sinful.

Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on the cause of your anger. Do not give the devil an opportunity. (Ephesians 4:26–27 NET)

There is much to be angry about in this dysfunctional and sinful world. Anger is a God-given emotional response to injustice, true injustice, the injustice when God is not getting His way, rather than the injustice I feel when I am not getting my own way. I suggest that recognition of injustice is a human trait that separates us from all other creatures because we alone are made in the image of God, who is without injustice. We intrinsically carry His sense of what is right, even if we fall short in our own thoughts and actions. (8)

We need to give one another permission to be angry when there is true injustice, issues such as abusive control, defiling corruption, unwarranted violence, false testimony, and so the list goes on. However, to be entirely right with God, we need to express that anger in the right way and at the right time. (8)

Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on the cause of your anger. Do not give the devil an opportunity. (Ephesians 4:26–27 NET)

In fact, Ephesians 4:26-27 reminds us that suppressing anger only allows it to fester and become an opportunity for empowerment by the enemy. (8)

Then Jesus entered the temple area and drove out all those who were selling and buying in the temple courts, and turned over the tables of the money changers and the chairs of those selling doves. And he said to them, “It is written, ‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are turning it into a den of robbers!” (Matthew 21:12–13 NET)
He found in the temple courts those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers sitting at tables. So he made a whip of cords and drove them all out of the temple courts, with the sheep and the oxen. He scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold the doves he said, “Take these things away from here! Do not make my Father’s house a marketplace!” His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will devour me.” (John 2:14–17)

Jesus was angry at the unjust way His Father’s house was being used as a place of business rather than a place of prayer. He responded with urgency, passion, and clarity, directing His physical anger towards the tables, which He saw as the platforms of spiritual authority handed to the enemy by those trading. We need to confront human injustice and sin as and when appropriate while remembering that our struggle is essential with the powers of darkness that have been given license through that sin. (8)

So, when there is true injustice, we need to be angry, but we always need to seek God’s way of bringing justice rather than exercising our own human reactions, which can often be inappropriate. (8)

Unrighteous anger is when our feelings cause us to behave in ungodly ways.

Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters! Let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger. For human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness. (James 1:19–20 NET)

It is most likely that this anger is the result of hidden pain, perhaps from rejection, abuse, or fear, though there may be other causes. The loss occurs, which triggers this buried anger to come to the surface, and we may react ungodly. Again, it is all right to feel angry, but it is NOT all right to display ungodly anger, which harms others (3).

The more you genuinely feel righteous anger, the more it will begin to dissipate and the more you will heal. Underneath anger is a pain, your pain, and hurt. Anger is limitless, as it can extend to your friends, doctors, family, yourself, loved ones, and God. You may ask, “Where is God in this loss? How could a LOVING God allow so much bad into our good world? (The better question would be: How could a just God allow so much good into such a bad world?). In this phase, we become honest with God about the experience of loss.

At first, grief feels like being lost at sea: no connection to anything. Then you get angry at someone, and suddenly you have a structure – your anger toward them – even if that “them” is God Himself!

The man said, “The woman whom you gave me, she gave me some fruit from the tree and I ate it.” (Genesis 3:12 NET)

The anger becomes a bridge over the open sea, a connection from you to them. It is something to hold onto, and a connection made from the strength of anger feels better than nothing. Consequently, the anger is another indication of the intensity of your love for that which was a loss.

What is grief but love persevering? (7)

Bargaining (Rationalizing)

Before a loss, it seems like you will do anything if only that which you hold dear would not be taken from you. For example, please, God, I will never be angry at my husband, parents, siblings, etc., again if you’ll just let them live. After a loss, bargaining may take the form of a temporary truce. “What if I devote the rest of my life to helping others? Then, can I wake up and realize this has all been a bad dream? We become lost in a spiral of “If only…” or “What if…” statements. We want life returned to what it was (e.g., we want our loved one restored). We want to go back in time (e.g., find the tumor sooner, recognize the illness more quickly, stop the accident from happening…if only, if only, if only…). Guilt is often bargaining’s companion. The “if onlys” cause us to find fault in ourselves and what we “think” we could have done differently. We may even bargain with the pain. We will do anything not to feel the pain of this loss. We remain in the past, trying to negotiate our way out of the hurt.

Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. (John 11:21 NET)

We begin to leave this phase as we realize that we cannot be comforted in our own ability or even our ability supplemented by God’s ability. It must be all God and God alone.

For sadness as intended by God produces a repentance that leads to salvation, leaving no regret, but worldly sadness brings about death. (2 Corinthians 7:10 NET)

Depression (Mourning)

Our attention moves squarely into the present. Empty feelings present themselves, and grief enters our lives on a deeper level, more profound than we ever imagined. This depressive stage feels as though it will last forever. It is important to understand that this depression is NOT a sign of mental illness. It is the appropriate response to a great loss.

For everything there is an appointed time, and an appropriate time for every activity on earth: ...A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance. (Ecclesiastes 3:1,4 NET) 

Consequently, we withdraw from life, left in a fog of intense sadness, wondering if there is any point in going on alone? Why go on at all? Depression after a loss is too often seen as unnatural: a state to be fixed, something to snap out of. The first question to ask yourself is whether or not the situation you are in is actually depressing. For example, the loss of a loved one is a very depressing situation, with depression a normal and appropriate response. To NOT experience depression after a loved one dies would be unusual.

Tears are a godly expression of inner pain – they are also the first step on the road to comfort and healing. Realize many events in life can be the source of pain and consequential tears. Perhaps the greatest suffering any of us can experience is the untimely loss of a loved one. Such events prompt unanswerable questions that Jesus understands. (4)

For we do not have a high priest incapable of sympathizing with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in every way just as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us confidently approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and find grace whenever we need help. (Hebrews 4:15,16 NET)
The Lord values the lives of his faithful followers. (Psalm 116:15 NET)

When a loss fully settles in your soul (e.g., the realization that your loved one did not get better this time and is not coming back), it is understandably depressing. Grief is a process of healing with depression as one of the many necessary steps along the way.

In this stage, we mourn the loss, realizing that we cannot comfort ourselves from the “Bargaining Phase” and avail ourselves of the comfort (Gk. parakaleō) of God, the Great Comforter (Gk. paraklētos).

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted [Gk. parakaleō]. (Matthew 5:4 NET)

The Greek word for comforter [Gk. paraklētos] is sometimes translated as advocate or helper.

Then I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate [Gk. paraklētos] to be with you forever— (John 14:16 NET)
When the Advocate [Gk. paraklētos] comes, whom I will send you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me, and you also will testify, because you have been with me from the beginning. (John 15:26,27 NET)
But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I am going away. For if I do not go away, the Advocate [Gk. paraklētos] will not come to you, but if I go, I will send him to you. (John 16:7 NET)

The comfort that we receive from God, our Abba-Father (i.e., Papa-Father), allows us to move into the last stage of grief.

And because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, who calls “Abba! Father!” (Galatians 4:6 NET)
For you did not receive the spirit of slavery leading again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry, “Abba, Father.” (Romans 8:15 NET)

It is in this depression or mourning stage that we are ready to receive the comfort given by God or from other people of God.

Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles so that we may be able to comfort those experiencing any trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ overflow toward us, so also our comfort through Christ overflows to you. But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort that you experience in your patient endurance of the same sufferings that we also suffer. And our hope for you is steadfast because we know that as you share in our sufferings, so also you will share in our comfort. (2 Corinthians 1:3–7 NET)

In this phase, we humble ourselves to receive God’s grace, mercy, and compassion.

But he gives greater grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but he gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6 NET)

However, we must choose not to give in to the temptation to stay in mourning but rather offer up the sacrifice of praise. Then, you will see your grief turned to the joy of Jesus! (1)

Now may the God of endurance and comfort give you unity with one another in accordance with Christ Jesus, so that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Romans 15:5,6 NET)

Acceptance (Restoration)

Acceptance is often confused with the notion of being “all right” or “OK” with what has happened. However, this is not the case. For example, most people do not ever feel “OK” or all right about the loss of a loved one. This stage is about accepting the comfort of God within the reality of our loss and recognizing that this new reality is the present reality for our lives on Earth. We will probably never like this reality or make it OK, but eventually, we will accept it. That is, we learn to live with it. It is the new norm with which we must learn to live. We must now live in a world where we have experienced the loss with dependence upon the moment-by-moment comfort of God and the hope of our future resurrection with Him.

Even when I must walk through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for you are with me; your rod and your staff reassure me. (Psalm 23:4 NET)
Now we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, so also we believe that God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep as Christians. For we tell you this by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will surely not go ahead of those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be suddenly caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words. (1 Thessalonians 4:13–18 NET)

At first, many resist this new norm, desiring to maintain life as it was before the loss. In time, through bits and pieces of acceptance, we see that we cannot keep the past intact. It has been forever changed, and we must readjust. We must learn to reorganize roles, re-assign them to others, or take them on ourselves. Realize finding acceptance may be just having more good days than bad ones. As we begin to live again and enjoy our lives, we often feel that in doing so, we are betraying the loss of our lives (e.g., a loved one). However, we can never replace what has been lost, but we can make new connections, meaningful relationships, and interdependencies. Instead of denying our feelings, we listen to our needs; we move, change, grow, evolve, move on, and transcend. We may start to reach out to others and become involved in their lives. We invest in our friendships and in our relationship with ourselves. We begin to live again, but we cannot do so until we have given grief its time. Ultimately, we can give the comfort we received from God for our loss to others experiencing similar losses. That is, we become the wounded healer!

Let me again experience the joy of your deliverance! Sustain me by giving me the desire to obey! Then I will teach rebels your merciful ways, and sinners will turn to you. (Psalm 51:12–13 NET)
A cheerful heart brings good healing, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. (Proverbs 17:22 NET)

The Next Steps

We have used examples of losing something physical or someone in this article. I believe that Jesus was addressing these issues; however, He was addressing something even more precious and valuable. That is the loss of fellowship with God as a result of the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden (1).

When we come to the point of realizing:

The loss of eternal life with God as a result of the original sin of Adam (Genesis 2:16,17; Genesis 3:1-6).

We all entered into this loss of eternal life by our sins (Romans 7:9,10; Romans 3:23).

Then, we will enter the grieving process culminating in seeking comfort that can only be obtained by the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior (1).

Again, successful are those who mourn, for they will be comforted!

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. (Matthew 5:4 NET)

At this stage of grief, God will reveal to you His new plan for your life… a plan far better than what we could have thought up or asked from Him.

And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose, because those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that his Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. (Romans 8:28–29 NET)
For I know what I have planned for you,’ says the Lord. ‘I have plans to prosper you, not to harm you. I have plans to give you a future filled with hope. (Jeremiah 29:11 NET)
For every one of God’s promises are “Yes” in him; therefore also through him the “Amen” is spoken, to the glory we give to God. But it is God who establishes us together with you in Christ and who anointed us, who also sealed us and gave us the Spirit in our hearts as a down payment. (2 Corinthians 1:20–22 NET) 
Now to him who by the power that is working within us is able to do far beyond all that we ask or think, to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20–21 NET)

Remember all the suffering that Job (1) went through with the loss of his possessions, children, and health.

Now the day came when Job’s sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, and a messenger came to Job, saying, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing beside them, and the Sabeans swooped down and carried them all away, and they killed the servants with the sword! And I—only I alone—escaped to tell you!” While this one was still speaking, another messenger arrived and said, “The fire of God has fallen from heaven and has burned up the sheep and the servants—it has consumed them! And I—only I alone—escaped to tell you!” While this one was still speaking another messenger arrived and said, “The Chaldeans formed three bands and made a raid on the camels and carried them all away, and they killed the servants with the sword! And I—only I alone—escaped to tell you!” While this one was still speaking another messenger arrived and said, “Your sons and your daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, and suddenly a great wind swept across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell on the young people, and they died! And I—only I alone—escaped to tell you!” (Job 1:13–19 NET)
So Satan went out from the presence of the Lord, and he afflicted Job with a malignant ulcer from the sole of his feet to the top of his head. (Job 2:7 NET)

Yet the end result was that he was twice as prosperous as before in things that money can buy and, more importantly, things that money cannot buy.

Think of how we regard as blessed those who have endured. You have heard of Job’s endurance and you have seen the Lord’s purpose, that the Lord is full of compassion and mercy. (James 5:11 NET)
So the Lord restored what Job had lost after he prayed for his friends, and the Lord doubled all that had belonged to Job. (Job 42:10 NET)
Instead of shame, you will get a double portion; instead of humiliation, they will rejoice over the land they receive. Yes, they will possess a double portion in their land and experience lasting joy. (Isaiah 61:7 NET)
For his anger lasts only a brief moment, and his good favor restores one’s life. One may experience sorrow during the night, but joy arrives in the morning. (Psalm 30:5 NET)
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you believe in him, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13 NET)

Lastly, we often let the cares of this world and the pressures of our daily lives pull us down into the “pit of despair.” Yet there’s a simple and easy alternative: to cast all our cares upon the One who can take them from us and lift us above them.

Now may the God of endurance and comfort give you unity with one another in accordance with Christ Jesus, (Romans 15:5 NET)
And God will exalt you in due time, if you humble yourselves under his mighty handby casting all your cares on him because he cares for you. (1 Peter 5:6,7 NET)
Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, in every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God. And the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:6–7 NET)

So often in life, there are those things that seem to develop, almost unseen, yet they have the habit of “getting on top” of us and lead us into depression and despair because we feel unable to cope. Sometimes, it is comforting to recognize that others have gone through similar experiences and yet have seen God intervene and bring them through in an amazing way.

For everything that was written in former times was written for our instruction, so that through endurance and through encouragement of the scriptures we may have hope. (Romans 15:4 NET)

We have an Almighty God, who, as our loving Heavenly Father, can do anything, even perform miracles on our behalf, because of the greatness of His love for us.

Again, Paul reminds us:

Now to him who by the power that is working within us is able to do far beyond all that we ask or think, (Ephesians 3:20 NET)

If this is our God, and this is His power, and we genuinely believe that He really loves us, then surely, He wants us to trust Him to sustain us when we experience the kind of problems and difficulties we feel unable to cope with by ourselves. (5)

to him who by the power that is working within us is able to do far beyond all that we ask or think, (Ephesians 3:21 NET)

Now that is something to have a BEAUTIFUL ATTITUDE about!

The Beautiful Attitudes Series:
 


Shalom
(Security, Wholeness, Success)
Peace

Then he said to them, “Therefore every expert in the law who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the owner of a house who brings out of his treasure what is new and old.” (Matthew 13:52 NET)


(1) Select the link to open another article with additional information in a new tab.

(2) David Cross, Ellel Ministries, Seeds of the Kingdom (February 26, 2013)

(3) Angela Weir, Ellel Ministries, Seeds of the Kingdom (September 22,23, 2010)

(4) Peter Horrobin, Ellel Ministries, Seeds of the Kingdom (February 28, 2013)

(5) David Silvester, Ellel Ministries, Seed of the Kingdom (March 1, 2013)

(6) David Cross, Ellel Ministries, Seeds of the Kingdom (December 26, 2013)

(7) https://screenrant.com/wandavision-grief-love-persevering-line-origin-filming/

(8) David Cross, Ellel Ministries, Seeds of the Kingdom (January 31, 2024) 

Hal has taught the Bible for over three decades. Through an interdenominational ministry dedicated to helping the local church build men for Jesus, Hal trained men, the leaders of men’s ministries, and provided pulpit supply. Before that, he was a Men’s Ministry Leader and an Adult Bible Fellowship teacher of a seventy-five-member class at a denominational megachurch. Presently, Hal desires to honor Jesus Christ through this Internet teaching ministry, thereby glorifying the Heavenly Father in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit. He believes, second to cultivating his relationship with God that raising his family unto the Lord is the most significant task for him while on Earth. Furthermore, Hal believes that being a successful leader in the church or workplace is no substitute for failing to be a successful leader at home.  DOULOS HAL'S TOPICAL INDEX

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