The Phoenix Rising from the ashes is an apt image for the renovation of our hearts. Transformation is over-promised and under-delivered. New life never occurs without letting go. The idea that God's mercies are new each morning hardly encourages any more spring in one's step when we read further of Jesus' idea of being blessed.
“Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted”. Really??? If that’s the “blessed” stuff of God, it’s tempting to keep looking. In some sense this line is beautiful because it says that God cares about those who are hurting and wants to heal them. YET, it seems rather unfortunate to call mourners “blessed” as a group that God favors. All the other beatitudes speak about an attitude or action that Jesus wants from his followers — being humble, righteous, pure in heart, peace loving, or merciful.
Maybe it helps to know that Jesus was alluding to Old Testament writings (notably, Isa.57, 60, 61; Ps.37, 38) where ‘mourning’ is often mentioned, but grief is NOT really the focus. Instead, the prophets mourned over injustice. Like many today, they were outraged at how greed, violence, abuse, debt, and corruption had become normal.
What’s “normal” has a way of making our hearts grow dull. The Beatitudes (Mt.5) introduce a new sort of “Operating System” whereby new life—new hearts— starts with wrestling with our own brokenness and the way things are.
It's normal to wonder aloud, “Where’s God when …?” or “How could God let that happen?” But…What if a large part of what we feel about injustice, greed, scarcity, abuse, wealth, or poverty is supposed to help us see what God sees?
I think our emotions are supposed to help us experience something…something that God already feels and wants to remedy. Seeing what God sees leads us to mourning . . . and that’s a good thing! The way to experience comfort is when we are dissatisfied and respond by either turning away from an action OR turning toward someone in need.
This idea of “turning” actually preserves our hearts. Martin Luther King shared a speech entitled, “Where do we go from here?”. Just as Jesus taught us to mourn the ills society, Dr. King’s challenge is to be “Dissatisfied”. (You can listen to the 3-min audio HERE) To be comforted by God is to be called out and not be left alone.
We need to grieve the world that God never intended. God never intended pain, loss, disease, death, oppression, or hunger. Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, we can experience God's comfort. Injustice is never comfortable. BUT, blessed are those who mourn…because on the far side of mourning is Comfort.
Here's to the new Life God intended, again & again...in Austin as it is in Heaven.