I have the privilege of contributing to He Reads Truth, a website of whose purpose is “To help men become who we were made to be, by doing what we were made to do, by the power and provision that God has given us to do it, for the glory of Jesus Christ.” They do this by providing scripture reading plans accompanied by reflections that can be accessed for free online or purchased as print books. For those of you looking to engage scripture in a fresh way – either because you are dried up or have been away from it, these studies/plans will refresh your soul and engage your mind.
What follows is one of the pieces I wrote on The Beatitudes. You can find the full plan HERE.
Matthew 5:4, Isaiah 61:1-3, Romans 7:21-25, 2 Corinthians 7:8-10
Nothing is more frustrating than a problem we cannot fix. I can think of about seven billion of these problems: people. We can’t fix people. Yet we try with blood, sweat, and tears. We try to solve their hearts and their sin and their pain. Sometimes we help. Often we are fruitless. Instead of a tidy resolution we are left with the residue and detritus sin leaves behind in all its acidity and stink.
And none of this touches on the misery of trying to solve ourselves. Just as we cannot fix the sin of others, we cannot fix our own hearts either. Each day we wake up and realize we must live another day as the same person who went to bed the night before. And each day that person is just barely bearable. By distraction and grit, we make it. And then the next day we start again.
Left to itself, this reality would exhibit the laws of spiritual inertia—a decline to death, decay, and rot. Without an outside force good enough and powerful enough to solve these problems, they are condemnation. We are left with no hope, nothing but sadness. But we have such a force, and He spoke a few simple words a few thousand years ago to a few thousand people on the side of a mountain: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).
Jesus was not offering trite promises of happiness. He wasn’t merely giving out hugs and smiles to make people forget their unsolvable sin (though I am sure He did not lack those for the needy). Neither was He setting up mourning as an aspiration—“blessed are those of you who can maintain a certain level of moroseness and misery”—as some Christians seem to believe. Jesus was offering hope to resolve the unresolvable. He was the hope.
All the way back in Isaiah, God promised One who would come to “heal the brokenhearted” and “comfort all who mourn” (Isaiah 61:1-2). Like us, the people then would have heard that as someone to rescue them from circumstances and make life all better. Jesus fulfilled Isaiah’s promise by doing both much more and much less. He did make life all better by crucifying sin and death. He did rescue us from the worst of our circumstances: our own sinfulness.
But Jesus did not fix our daily circumstances. Not yet at least. We still live in the pain of sin’s effect, but we know with certainty that our mourning will be comforted in full when Jesus comes again. Because our lives and hope and happiness depend on this comfort, our thanks run deep. We are thankful for the rescue that has already happened and for the one yet to come—the present comfort and the future comfort too.