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The blessing no one wants
Pastor Chris Emery

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

 This is one of the strangest statements in the Bible. It is a paradox and a mystery. Happy are the sad! What do these strange words mean? Who are the mourners, why are they sad and how are they comforted?

 We at Faith Baptist Chapel learned something about this beatitude over the last month. We received a phone call the last Thursday in March with the news that faithful missionaries Richard and Charlene Hicks had been murdered in Guyana, SA. On May 1 we had a Celebration Service here in Lunenburg to remember their lives and ministry of translation work to the Wapasani people of that country.

 I would like to share with you five things God wants us to discover through mourning.

 God Himself draws near to those who hurt. Psalm 34:18 says, "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Here is a promise of God's special presence in the midst of your pain. Many Christians can testify to this special sense of God's nearness felt during a time of great suffering.

 God uses suffering to draw us to Himself. In verse 4 of this same Psalm David declared, "I sought the Lord and He answered me; He delivered me from all my fears." Suffering turns us to the Lord as nothing else can. Someone has said, "You never know if Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have. And when Jesus is all you have, then and only then will you discover that Jesus really is all you need!"

 We grow faster in hard times than we do in good times. Romans 5:2-4 describes the process God uses to develop godly character in our lives. In fact Paul says that "we also rejoice in our sufferings"(v.3). God doesn't say rejoice because of our suffering but in the suffering there are lessons to learn. I have had many say to me, "Pastor Chris, I wouldn't trade my pain for the things God has shown me."

 Our sufferings qualify us to minister to others. II Corinthians 1:4 tells us that God "comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort others with the comfort we ourselves have received from God." This is the same Greek word used in Matthew 5:4. God uses our suffering to comfort us so that we can minister to others in His Name.

 So what do these things teach us about the character of God?

 Because God is sovereign and we are not, most of our questions will never be answered in this life. Some people can't live with that truth so they devise their own answers to explain suffering and death. Better to say less and be silent before the Lord than try to explain the mysterious ways of God.

 Because God is good, we know that He has our best interests at heart. Romans 8:28: "all things work together for good " God's character is not on trial in your sufferings. Job had to learn that. God is good and His mercy endures forever. That is true regardless of our moment-by-moment experience.

 Because God is wise, nothing is ever wasted in our experience. Romans 8:29 talks about our being conformed to the image of Christ. If you feel the weight of God hammering down on you, rest assured that nothing is being wasted. In the end God will be glorified, and you will be more beautiful than you ever dreamed possible!

 Because God is love, He will not leave you alone in your pain. This brings us full circle for this is the truth of Matthew 5:4: "you will be comforted."

 I realize that this may not answer every question, but it does answer the most important question: does God care for me in the midst of suffering? The answer is yes, God does care for you - and if you doubt His love, look to the Cross and be comforted.

  May 11, 2005  
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