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Finding Happiness (part 2)
slides for powerpoint
“Blessed are those who mourn, because they will be comforted.” (HCSB)
This text makes no sense at first reading. Is Jesus actually
saying that the second step in the quest for happiness is to mourn?
I checked to see if there might be some significance to the Greek word
used for mourn that might explain the meaning a bit, and found that the
word is a fairly intense word that is translated wail in a couple places
in the New Testament. Jesus is saying exactly what He appears to
be saying here—mourning is the second step toward happiness.
Certainly the promise to be comforted is significant, but it isn’t
the primary thrust of the verse. Jesus didn’t say happy are those
who are comforted, even though they mourn. He said, Happy are those
who mourn. This leads me to ask, “Who are these happy mourners and
what are they mourning about?”
Obviously, Jesus isn’t talking about the type of grief Paul wrote
about in the second half of 2 Corinthians 7:10 “…but worldly grief produces
That is the grief Rachel exhibited in Genesis 30:1 “When Rachel
saw that she was not bearing Jacob [any children], she envied her sister.
‘Give me sons, or I will die!’ she said to Jacob.” (HCSB) Jacob worked
seven years to win Rachel’s love. I don’t mean he courted her for
seven years, I mean that for seven years he did work for her father in
exchange for the right to marry Rachel. The morning after his wedding
there was mourning--he discovered Leah, not Rachel in his bed. His
father-in-law tricked him and pawned weak-eyed Leah off on Jacob.
Jacob wasn’t happy. Genesis 29:17 gives us a clue why, “And Leah's
eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful of form and face.” (NASB95)
In short, Rachel had a killer body and the face of an angel, while Leah
was weak-eyed. Perhaps that means she needed to visit the optometrist,
or perhaps it was a delicate way of saying she didn’t have a killer body
and the face of an angel like her sister.
Jacob agreed to work for another seven years for Rachel’s hand,
but this time got his payment up front. But Genesis 30:1 indicates
that all was not well in paradise. Not only did Rachel have to share
her husband with her sister, but weak-eyed Leah was giving Jacob children
while she wasn’t. It grieved her to the point of death.
No one in the right mind would think Rachel was happy. She
wasn’t. She was so sad that she was ready to die.
Proverbs 18:14 says, “A man’s spirit can endure sickness, but
who can survive a broken spirit?” (HCSB)
King Ahab experienced a similar grief when Naboth wouldn’t sell
him a piece of Real Estate he wanted. 1 Kings 21:4 “So Ahab went
to his palace resentful and angry, because of what Naboth the Jezreelite
had told him. He had said, ‘I will not give you my fathers’ inheritance.’
He lay down on his bed, turned his face away, and didn’t eat any food.”
Now this is a pretty sight, isn’t it? King Ahab wasn’t able
to close a Real Estate deal so he pouted and went to bed early without
his supper. I would imagine that no one entered his chambers and
asked the King, “Why are you so happy today?” He was experiencing
the grief that leads to death.
His wife did enter his chambers. Listen to what she said,
“Then his wife Jezebel said to him, ‘Now, exercise your royal power over
Israel. Get up, eat some food, and be happy. [For] I will give you the
vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.’” (1 Kings 21:7 HCSB) She didn’t
comment on him being happy, she told him to get happy.
Unfortunately, this grief ended in death for Naboth.
The grief that leads to happiness doesn’t spring from a dark shroud
of disappointment. Disappointments come to everyone, happy people; balanced
people are able to take them in stride. A happy person has a large capacity
to deal with disappointment without longing for death. The secret
to that is found in the first step of happiness—being poor in spirit.
Only the haughty feel that life owes them anything. Rachel probably
spent her whole life thinking she was better than Leah. I suspect
her struggle with infertility sanded some rough edges off of her soul.
Certainly Ahab was arrogant and thoughtless. He was willing to take
Naboth’s inheritance—something that meant everything to Naboth—just so
he would have one more piece of real estate. However, a visit from
the prophet turned Ahab’s heart.
1 Kings 21:27-29 says, “When Ahab heard these words, he tore his
clothes, put sackcloth over his body, and fasted. He lay down in sackcloth
and walked around subdued.  Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah
the Tishbite:  ‘Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before Me?
I will not bring the disaster during his lifetime, because he has humbled
himself before Me. I will bring the disaster on his house during his son’s
This passage provides some insight into the kind of mourning that
Jesus talked about when He said, “Blessed are those who mourn, because
they will be comforted.” There is a difference in the type of mourning
Ahab did when Naboth told him “no” and the type of mourning he did when
Elijah confronted him with his sin. This type his mourning sprung
from the knowledge of his spiritual poverty and led to humility.
And I believe that is the key to understanding Jesus’ words. Taken
out of context, Matthew 5:4 doesn’t make sense, but laid on top of Matthew
5:3, it makes perfect sense. People who know they are spiritually
bankrupt will grieve over their sins. Here’s the important question,
“How can sinful people be truly happy?” The answer is, only when
they admit their sinfulness and allow it to break their hearts. Because
only when we mourn over our sins can we come under God’s control, pursue
righteousness and take our next steps we need to take in our journey toward
happiness. Happiness isn’t the absence of grief—it is the proper
use of grief.
Earlier we read the second part of 2 Corinthians 7:10 about worldly
grief producing death, now let’s read the entire passage. 2 Corinthians
7:10-11 says, “For godly grief produces a repentance not to be regretted
and leading to salvation, but worldly grief produces death.  For consider
how much diligence this very thing—this grieving as God wills—has produced
in you: what a desire to clear yourselves, what indignation, what fear,
what deep longing, what zeal, what justice! In every way you have commended
yourselves to be pure in this matter.” (HCSB)
Judas was grieved over his sin, but it didn’t produce repentance
and salvation. Matthew 27:3-5 says, “Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing
that He had been condemned, was full of remorse and returned the 30 pieces
of silver to the chief priests and elders.  ‘I have sinned by betraying
innocent blood,’ he said. ‘What’s that to us?’ they said. ‘See to it yourself!’
 So he threw the silver into the sanctuary and departed. Then he went
and hanged himself.” (HCSB)
His grief led to death, not repentance. He confessed his
sin, but didn’t repent from it. Richard Reid, the so-called “shoe-bomber”
pled guilty for attempting to blow up American Airlines flight 63 on December
22, 2001 with explosives stuffed in his shoe. After going over each
count against him, Chief U.S. District Judge William Young asked Reid why
he was pleading guilty. He answered, “Because at the end of the day,”
Reid said, “I know that I done the actions.”
But it is one thing to admit you’ve done something and another
thing to disavow yourself from your past and determine to turn over a new
leaf. Judge Young warned Reid that he would weigh the government’s claim
that he has al Qaeda links when he passes judgment on him. Reid responded,
“I’m a disciple of Osama bin Laden. I’m an enemy of your country. I don’t
Reid’s confession wasn’t enough. And neither will it be enough
at the Judgment Day to come. On that day, Reid’s only hope–our only hope–will
be if we repented of our sins and placed our faith in Jesus before we got
Proverbs 28:13 says, “He who conceals his transgressions will
not prosper, but he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.”
(NASB) Godly grief leads to repentance and salvation. Paul wrote,
“Now I am rejoicing, not because you were grieved, but because your grief
led to repentance. For you were grieved as God willed, so that you didn’t
experience any loss from us.” (2 Corinthians 7:9 HCSB)
Have you experienced the grief that leads to repentance?
If not, will you do more than admit your sin, will your repent from it
today and turn to Christ?