As I prepare for the funeral service for a dear sister in Christ, I thought I’d share from my reading from A.W. Pink’s “Comfort for Christians.”
Mourning is hateful and irksome to poor human nature. From suffering and sadness our spirits instinctively shrink. By nature we seek the society of the cheerful and joyous. Matthew 5:4 (Blessed are they that mourn) presents an anomaly to the unregenerate, yet it is sweet music to the ears of God’s elect. If “blessed” why do they mourn? If they “mourn” how can they be “blessed”? Only the child of God has the key to this paradox. The more we ponder our text the more we are constructed to exclaim, “never man spake like this Man!” “Blessed (happy) are they that mourn” is at complete variance with the world’s logic. Men have in all places and in all ages deemed the prosperous and the gay the happy ones, but Christ pronounces happy those who are poor in spirit and who mourn.
Now it is obvious that it is not every species of touring that is here referred to. There is a “sorrow of the world which worketh death.” The mourning to which Christ promises comfort must be restricted to that which is spiritual. The mourning which is blessed is the restful of a realization of God’s holiness and goodness which issues in a sense of our own wickedness – the depravity of our natures, the enormity and guilt of our conduct, and the sorrowing over our sins with a godly sorrow.
The mourning which is referred to is manifestly more than that of bereavement, affliction or loss. It is mourning for sin. “It is mourning over the felt destitution of our spiritual state, and over the iniquities that have separated between us and God; mourning over the very morality in which we have boasted, and the self-righteousness in which we have trusted; sorrow for rebellion against God, and hostility to His will; and such mourning always goes side by side with conscious poverty of spirit” (quoting Dr. Person).
Mourning is ever a characteristic of the normal Christian state. There is much that the believer has to mourn over – the plague of his own heart makes him cry, “O wretched man that I am”; the unbelief which “doth so easily beset us” and the sins which we commit that are more in number than the hairs of our head, are a continual grief; the barrenness and unprofitableness of our lives make us sigh and cry; our propensity to wander from Christ, our lack of communion with Him, the shallowness of our love for Him, cause us to hang our harps upon the willows. But this is not all. They hypocritical religion prevailing on every hand, having the form of godliness but denying the power thereof; the awful dishonor done to the truth of God by the false doctrines taught in countless pulpits; the division among the Lord’s people, the strife between brethren, occasion continual sorrow of heart. The awful wickedness in the world, men despising Christ, the untold sufferings around, make us groan within ourselves. The closer the Christian lives to God, the more will he mourn over all that dishonors Him.
“They shall be comforted.” This refers first of all to the removal of the conscious guilt which burdens the conscience. It finds its fulfillment in the Spirit’s application of the Gospel of God’s grace to the one whom He has convicted of his dire need of a Savior. It issues in a sense of free and full forgiveness through the merits of the atoning blood of Christ. This Divine comfort is the peace of God which passes all understanding filling the heart of the one who is now assured that he is accepted in the Beloved. God wounds before healing, abases before He exalts. First there is revelation of His justice and holiness, then the making known of His mercy and grace.
Though he mourns his excuseless failures and confesses them to God, yet is the Christian comforted by the assurance that the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses him from all sin. Though he groans over the dishonor done to God on every side, yet is he comforted by the knowledge that the day is readily approaching when Satan shall be removed from these scenes and when the Lord Jesus shall sit upon the throne of His glory and rule in righteousness and peace.
Sorrow may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning. During the long night of His absence, the saints of God have been called to fellowship with Him who was the Man of Sorrows. But, blessed be God, it is written, “If we suffer with Him we shall also be glorified together.” What comfort and joy will be ours when shall dawn the morning without clouds!
Taken from, Comfort for Christians, by A.W. Pink (Reiner Publications, Swengel, PA, 1952).
Readings from the Pastor’s Desk
Walking away from the faith – Over the last few weeks there have been a couple of notable “prominent” Christian leaders who have announced that they no longer believe the Gospel and have walked away from the Church altogether. Here are links to the first and second articles – as well as an article from David French I thought interesting. Pray for them, for their families, and for their Churches, and pray that God would hold us closely and keep us faithful to Him.
Drifting from the Church – On a similar note, here’s an article from LifeWay that states what I’ve seen in the church – when you drift away from the Church you will inevitably drift away from your faith.
Legalism or Discipline – Here is a wonderfully short article and video from Kent Hughes on the difference between Legalism and Discipline.