Blessed are those who mourn
The next line in the Beatitudes is “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Jesus understood that it was painful being human at times and that most of the time we want to circumvent the ache we feel. I have heard it called spiritual bypass. But, Jesus understood that in order to really be alive we had to experience every aspect of life. That includes sadness and a sense of loss. We cannot live this physical life without encountering some sort of loss. It is built into the design.
I hear many people talk about their depression. But, when I probe further, I discover that most of the time, they have recently experienced a profound loss in their lives. I know that depression is a very real physiological phenomenon for people. But, I believe that most of what we label depression is simply unexpressed sadness and grief over the losses in our life. Stephen Mitchell refers to it as “unattended sorrow.”
Jesus’ teaching tells us that when we face our pain, we then can be comforted. If we tell ourselves that everything is fine, we don’t need comfort. We stoically go on about our business with a coat of armor around our hearts protecting us from any further hurt. We stay disconnected from ourselves and others and live as if we were only half alive. When we mourn deeply, we become vulnerable and accessible to the comfort from others and from God. When we drop our defenses, we find God in that moment. Our tears wash away the illusion of separation and self-sufficiency. In that moment, we discover the assurance of God’s love and comfort.