The Transformational Gospel of Jesus #12: Have you grieved the pain of your brokenness?

Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. -Matthew 5:4

Surprisingly, the next stage of the transforming gospel that Jesus teaches is to mourn. Yet when you come to the end of yourself, you have to face the hurts you have stuffed down for as long as you have had the strength. Not just hurts done to you. The hurts you caused yourself. The hurts you inflicted on others close to you or on yourself by your own sin choices.

This blessing addresses the impact of the transformational gospel. It exposes us before it heals us. And we mourn our brokenness. However, if humans are deficient in one area, it is in their willingness to grieve properly. This denial of grief points to where we begin to run from pain, seeking comfort in something other than God. When we are drawn towards knowing God, our pain becomes alive and real. Here for perhaps the first time we experience the intensity of our soul’s distress. Grief is a process through which our rational mind comes to understand our emotional loss. We are freed to care that we are wounded, to stop denying that our wound is really significant or that we are really too big to cry. For the first time, we can be safely real about these hurts. We can grieve how we messed up without an, “I told you so!” from God.

Grieving properly is hard because we keep getting stuck in one of the stages. You can bog down at stage one, denying something wounding happened and stuffing the pain. Or you can park at stage two, raging and ready for revenge if you can figure out at whom to toss the lightning bolt—a parent, former friend, ex-spouse, that jerk of a boss, or even God. Maybe you will get stuck in stage three, bargaining for a better ending, or perhaps in stage-four, deep depression over what you cannot accept. You have to surrender your grief to God to experience the outcome of this Beatitude.

—Because mourning is not forever. Sorrow is not your permanent assignment. It leads you towards growth and health. Moreover, Jesus, who understands loss and pain, is the one who will walk through the time of grief with you. You are never alone and without hope.

The promise of this grief process is not reaching acceptance of the pain, but being comforted in a healing way. The blessing gives hope that, although the wounding was unfair and wrong, not only will every tear be dried someday, but also the comfort of healing will be given right now.

I heard the story of one woman who had been regularly molested by her uncle until she was old enough to leave her hometown. She managed to avoid him for years by refusing to come to family gatherings. Depression haunted her until she finally sought help from someone who understood unfinished business. As she grew to know God, she wept many tears over the pain she had received from her uncle. As she healed, she recognized he would never stoop to apologize to her. She asked God for the strength to deal with this man. Surprising everyone, she attended the next family get-together. She waited until she could catch her uncle aside and spoke to him this way: “Uncle, both you and I know what you did to me. But I tell you right now that God has given me the power to forgive you for what you did. So I do forgive you and hope someday you can be changed from the kind of man you are.” The uncle could not understand this mercy. It drove him towards God. For her, it marked the shifting of the focus of her life from her wound to her God.

Being comforted does not mean you will not be scarred by the wound. But it does mean the hurt of the wound no longer directs your life choices. Now you are free to move on differently from when you tried to fix it or deny it. You can move ahead trusting that God will use the wound in your life to conform you to the image of Jesus, even if you cannot see how at the moment.

Steve Smith