To those with heavy hearts…
Maybe it feels like it will last always, the pain sharp in your heart. Maybe it seems like you are alone and no one understands the dark shadows that line your day-to-day moments. Because when your days are tinted by sorrow – if there’s a name, a memory, a longing that fills you with regret and bone-deep ache, there’s not much other people can do to help heal you. Or maybe your heart hurts for the suffering in this world…maybe you can see how far we, as a people, have drifted from God and you mourn over the sin that brings so much destruction. Whatever the specifics, we mourn because of what has been lost.
But the Son of God spoke long ago and promised that sorrow will not be our forever-portion.
If you are marked by loss, if your heart mourns…these words are for you. And what Jesus said in Matthew 5:4 is that you are blessed because you mourn…He said that you will be comforted. This means that you will be strengthened, soothed in time of grief or fear…that you will be given help to make it all more bearable.
Intimately, Jesus knows sorrow. From the beginning, humanity was marred when our communion with God was disrupted. The price of prideful sin was high, the loss was deep. The consequences ran sure and swiftly through generations…the relationship God wanted with us was broken and only the Son could restore us. And “For this reason he had to be made like them,fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” (Hebrews 2)
Fully human in every way, Jesus felt sorrow. He mourned the death of Lazarus. He mourned the loss of His people — can’t you hear it in His cry to Jerusalem? “How often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.” (Matthew 23:37)
And then He took on, wholly, the burden of it all — the deep, crushing anguish of rejection and sin…just as the prophet foretold.
Who has believed our message
and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
Surely he took up our pain
and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
stricken by him, and afflicted.
But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
A man of many sorrows – more than any other that has ever lived, because He took on all of our sin –yes, this Savior can understand your pain.
He knows full well the weight of what is broken….He has already carried that burden for you. So you don’t have to bear it alone — which is why He says to you, “Come unto me, all who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest…” (Matt.11:28)
The source of your sorrow may remain the same, but a supernatural comfort is available to you if you surrender your sorrow to Jesus. No, it may not make sense. It may not be logical. But our God’s “soothing” is outside of human boundaries. — He sent the Comforter to see you through these imperfect days. “I must go away,” He said to the disciples in John 16:7, “For if I do not go away, then the Comforter will not come.” The Greek word is ‘Parakletos’ …which means, literally, come near. Called to your side. The One who suffered to rescue us will not leave us without hope while we remain affected by sin’s consequences. The Holy Spirit “also helps our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” (Roman 8:26).
Our forefathers stand in testimony that we are not forsaken in our despair. After the destruction of Jerusalem, Jeremiah spoke these words: (From Lamentations 3)
I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion;
therefore I will wait for him.”
The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him,
to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly
for the salvation of the LORD.
For no one is cast off
by the Lord forever.
Though he brings grief, he will show compassion,
so great is his unfailing love.
No, we are not alone in our day of trouble! And remember– the day of trouble is not the main event in our story. Our Savior who suffered is the Savior who reigns victoriously over sin, over death, over everything known and unknown to us!
Keep your eyes on Jesus — keep your eternal perspective — and when your “weeping endures for the night“, you’ll know that “joy WILL come in the morning.” (Psalm 30:5). You’ll remember that “our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!” (2 Cor. 4:17) Even in death, we do not grieve without hope, for since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with him the believers who have died. (1st Thes. 4:14)
Trusting in His comfort and promise, we can say with Paul: “I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:10-11)
We must remember that our present circumstances are not our eternal circumstances! So let’s look ahead to what will be….
“Those the LORD has rescued will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
and sorrow and sighing will flee away.” (from Isaiah 51)
”See, I will create
new heavens and a new earth.
The former things will not be remembered,
nor will they come to mind.
But be glad and rejoice forever
in what I will create,
for I will create Jerusalem to be a delight
and its people a joy.
I will rejoice over Jerusalem
and take delight in my people;
the sound of weeping and of crying
will be heard in it no more.” (Isaiah 65:17-19)
”I will heal them;
I will guide them and restore comfort to Israel’s mourners,
creating praise on their lips.
Peace, peace, to those far and near,”
says the LORD. “And I will heal them.” (Isaiah 57:18-19)
“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.
They will rebuild the ancient ruins
and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations…
Instead of your shame
you will receive a double portion,
and instead of disgrace
you will rejoice in your inheritance.
And so you will inherit a double portion in your land,
and everlasting joy will be yours…
I delight greatly in the LORD;
my soul rejoices in my God.
For he has clothed me with garments of salvation
and arrayed me in a robe of his righteousness,
as a bridegroom adorns his head like a priest,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the soil makes the sprout come up
and a garden causes seeds to grow,
so the Sovereign LORD will make righteousness
and praise spring up before all nations.” (From Isaiah 61)
With hope like this, it becomes clear that we can, even when sorrow touches our lives—
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” ~Philippians 4:4-7