“Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)
OK, when you read the above — the second of the beatitudes in the Sermon on the Mount — what comes to mind as to what Jesus is saying? If your answer is that He is saying that God will comfort us when we mourn the loss of a loved one, that’s a great answer since God certainly does do that for us.
However, if that were the message of this particular statement, it would seem to be inconsistent with the rest of the beatitudes. All of the other ones encourage us to make proper choices and be suitably blessed for making those proper choices. Everybody automatically mourns the death of someone who they love — it’s part of being human — so that doesn’t seem to fit in within the context of this sermon. It would be like saying, “Blessed are those who breathe: for they shall get air.”
So, what type of mourning could Jesus be referring to that would be consistent with the other beatitudes? There’s a clue in the 3 Nephi version of the sermon.
After telling the Nephites, “Blessed are the poor in spirit who come unto me,” Jesus continues by saying, “And again, blessed are all they that mourn, for they shall be comforted” (3 Nephi 12:3-4). The inclusion of the words, “And again” indicates that the statement about mourning is in some way a reiteration of the statement about being poor in spirit.
In the scriptures, when people are instructed to mourn, they are being told to recognize their unworthiness before God (be poor in spirit), be repentant of any sins they have committed and seek forgiveness from God. Here is one such scripture:
“Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” (James 4:8-10)
When someone is in a sinful condition, there are various ways that the person can feel about their situation:
- This is who I am or what I want to do, and I don’t care who thinks it’s wrong.
- I know this isn’t really right, but everybody else is doing it or thinks it’s OK.
- I know this isn’t how I should be living. I’m not happy that I’m doing this. I would like to change and be the person God wants me to be.
Obviously, the last option above is the one that corresponds to mourning — the person is mourning their sinful condition. As is illustrated, one has to recognize that they are in sin and have a desire to change as part of the mourning process.
When unbelievers mourn their sinful condition, they typically repent of their sins and ask for their baptism. However, even believers can fall into sin at times, and they then need to reach the point of mourning their condition such that they break their hearts before the Lord and seek His forgiveness.
Regardless of how it occurs, if you truly mourn your sinful condition and express your repentance to God, something wonderful happens — you are comforted! How are you comforted? God forgives you of the sins that were committed and all of the associated guilt is taken away. And, if you’re a new convert, then you receive the Holy Ghost, also known as the Comforter. And, if you follow the Holy Ghost — whether it’s new to you or you’ve had it for years — you won’t fall back into your old, sinful ways. The Comforter provides great comfort!
So, if there is any sin in our lives, let’s not be lackadaisical about it. Rather, let’s be unhappy enough to seek forgiveness and make a change. The Lord will bless those who have this good desire and provide comfort through that great gift He gives to believers — the Comforter or Holy Ghost.
This article has undergone ministry review and approval.