That is the promise of Jesus as he sat down to teach his followers about the economy and ethics of a God-based worldview.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” ~ Matthew 5:4
Jesus comments on a present situation and offers a future promise. “We are apt to think, Blessed are the merry; but Christ, who was himself a great mourner, says, Blessed are the mourners.” (Matthew Henry) There is a notion we have of what is “blessed” and what is not. God’s blessing isn’t offered to the rich, the great, those who live free of worry and pain, but to the opposite end of human experience. Any other idea of “blessed” comes about through the striving, efforts and seeming good fortune of those that “make it.” Apart from God’s subversive interloping that is all they have to look forward to. For those that mourn, those that suffer whether from their own sin and stupidity or at the hand of an evil perpetrator, where does their “blessing” come from? Where do they look for help? Hope? Happiness?
In the face of such evil and wickedness that would result in the deaths at Sandy Hook Elementary School I hope that, for those of you that attended Church this morning you heard from your pastor/minister words of assurance and comfort; a promise of justice and a prayer for the comfort of those who suffer and those who serve and help them in the days ahead; a reminder that forgiveness triumphs over bitterness and most of all, how on earth the message of Jesus answers this deplorable tragedy.
I hope you didn’t hear trite platitudes or insensitive political posturing about either end of the gun control debate (that will come and is past due, but today is not that day, today is the day of mourning). I hope your pastor challenged you to consider that it is exactly because of such evil that Jesus had to come into our world and begin to set it aright. If there was no Christmas, then full justice isn’t even a pipe dream, it’s an empty wish for a pathetic bunch of proteins that collided in the cesspool of humanity.
Your pastor doesn’t have all the answers. I certainly didn’t for my congregation. I can’t tell you, specifically, why this gross sinful evil was perpetrated. But I do know that “the wicked shall be cut off in darkness” and that justice will be carried out and that comfort, mercy, relief and forgiveness is possible. Jesus, having suffered for sin has been appointed the judge of all. When the books are opened and we face judgement, the shooter will also, and the judge of all the earth will do what it right. I can’t begin to make a clear determination of what that will consist of, because, I too am deserving of judgement for my sin. Rather than celebrate his damnation, I cling, as invited by Jesus, to the promise that mourning precedes comfort.
As I lead my congregation in worship this morning, I spoke to this end to remind and encourage that Jesus came at Christmas to put an end to sin and suffering and death. And I prayed, albeit inadequately, that the God of all comfort would keep his promise and give healing to those affected by this awful event.
Heavenly Father, to all generations you have always been faithful and extended your mercy to those that fear you. Let us rediscover what that means today and continue to help us and give us more of your unending love. Provide your mercy, compassion and healing to those families who lost children in the shooting and for those still suffering from serious wounds. Provide calm leadership to their community as they seek justice and try to rebuild their lives and their school. Be the shield and protector of those children, staff and families who are experiencing trauma. Provide them with counsel and support that will enable them to recover and grow. Enable them to commit themselves to you as a faithful and good judge of the sin that occurred and enable them to trust in your forgiveness so that they are not consumed by bitterness. Give strength to the police and social workers who will serve these families in the days ahead that they can provide counsel that will start the process of recovery. Thank you that Jesus has come to make this possible and has full justice at his disposal. We rest in your goodness and power as we pray to you in Jesus name. Amen.
Here are some other helpful reading for Christians to think through how they can respond to the Newtown massacre serve their friends and community.
- Three Thoughts (and several resources) for Addressing Sandy Hook at your Church – Ed Stetzer
- Rachel Weeping for Her Children, The Massacre in Connecticut – Albert Mohler
- And Slew the Little Childer – Doug Wilson