They Shall Be Comforted

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).

Jesus said many challenging things during His ministry. Some statements were hard to accept. Others were hard to understand because His listeners were hard-hearted and stubborn. Still other sayings are just hard because we don’t see them come to fruition right away. In the passage quoted above, Jesus does not put any kind of time constraint on the comfort that is promised – and when one is living in the midst of grief, it’s tempting to cry out, “How long, O Lord?!”

So we long for comfort; to see the promise of Jesus fulfilled; to experience the Sermon on the Mount in action in a time of desperate aching.

The world offers a variety of paltry alternatives – we can turn on the television, eat something greasy, stare at our phones with that characteristic blank expression that is the face of our age. We can seek comfort in a hundred different distractions that do not ultimately satisfy the eternal longing within our souls.

And eternal souls we do have! You and I are made up of more than just the flesh. The very fact that we feel tension between the internal and external, the body and the mind, the temporal and the immeasurable – it’s self-evident that we have a set of spiritual needs and priorities that long for something more than distraction, entertainment, or the basic physical needs of a mammal on planet earth. We want to know that we are more than just our flesh! The apostle Paul addresses this in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18…

13 But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as indeed the rest of mankind do, who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose from the dead, so also God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep through Jesus. 15 For we say this to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive, who remain, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore, comfort one another with these words.

These words are a comfort because of the faith we can all share. A hope that stretches from the depths of history all the way into eternity. There is an unbroken chain of sojourners who shared their faith and optimism with the next generation -- and we can all similarly attach ourselves like links to the chain. I know “whom I have believed, and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day” (2 Timothy 1:12).