Mourning and joy

At church this morning, Steve spoke about mourning and joy.

He made a point about the word “mourning”—that it is easy to skim over verses that use it. In Matthew 5:4, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted,” the word “mourn” should be read more like devastatingly broken-hearted, as many of us have felt when someone we love has died. It is the deep mourning we feel when something precious has been lost.

I reflected then upon mourning.

I have mourned during the last few years, due to my wife divorcing me and the lost hope of being a husband and father that God would smile on. This shattered me, many times over. Mourning has depth, intensity, graininess, and edges. It hurts.

Ecclesiastes 7:4 has come to mind often during this time. “The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.” I take it as an observation, and it offers no comfort.

Where is the joy in being shattered?

The road and fields of snow were smudged and shimmered. I could feel warm tears on my cheeks, curling around the corners of my mouth. My clammy fingers twisted around the steering wheel.

There is a moment for a Christian when brokenness is finished, and you remember that God is alive, that your screwed up life has nothing to do with how much God loves you. In humility and forgiveness, you are granted peace, confidence, and hope. Joy and gratefulness mix, and your tears are sweetened.

And what now? Love and sorrow.

I am largely past this time of mourning, thanks to God. I think I have made it through, stronger in faith, living more honestly with God and others.

Sorrow is a recent memory for me, and I’ve unhinged my life from my ex-wife’s. This leaves me again to pay attention to life, and I have been harboring a dilemma about love and sorrow.

I work with people, most of whom are not Christian. Some have become friends, to one extent or other, and we have at times discussed their faiths. Roughly speaking, I know where they stand. Some are atheist, some agnostic, some believe in spirits of various sorts.

A dilemma

My dilemma is this: I am afraid to love people who aren’t saved in Christ because the depth of my love and caring is the depth of my pain.

Does it make sense? If I care about someone, because of what I know about God, I must care about this person’s salvation. What if this person dies without knowing God? Oh God! Oh God!

Oh God, but I don’t want any more pain. How deep are our hearts and our souls? How long is eternity? That is the measure of our joy, and I am horrified that it is the measure of sorrow we may feel for the lost.

For at least a year now, I have harbored this wall in my heart. I will not reach out so far as to put myself in this danger.

Who craves to mourn? Not me.

But I am made for selfless love, and I am compelled to love the lost. Strangely, reaching out to the saints, those who know God, is not as important to me. They are my support, they suffer like the rest of us, and I will help them when I can, but I live outwards.

If I choose to love deeply, heedlessly, I will not be free from mourning. Will it destroy me? Is that an irrational fear? What will I do for it? What will I sacrifice? Scriptures promise that God will comfort me if I mourn, but am I faithful enough to dare him to?

Do away with the angst! I know that I must.

God, be with us.

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