The tears just kept coming. As they did, all I could hear was:
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
The flood of emotion caught me off-guard. I didn’t think I had any current reason to be mourning. It seemed like things were finally shifting. Mostly, it seemed like I was shifting. I felt like I had finally gotten above some things that far too often in the past had dragged me under.
And that, I discovered, was part of the problem.
Because the view is different from above.
Have you ever bought a brand new piece of furniture and brought it into your “old” living room? Everything went together and looked okay until you brought in the new stuff. Then all of a sudden you notice the dingy paint on the walls. You notice the curtains that seem out-dated and worn. And all those knick knacks that once seemed so cute and sentimental? Well, now they’re just cluttering up the place.
I think that’s how it is with our souls. God heals something that previously distorted our vision and all of a sudden you notice a lot of other things that aren’t in such great shape. The truth is they hadn’t been great for a long time, but you didn’t notice so much until you saw them from a different perspective.
I’ve seen some hard things lately—heartbreaking things that have resulted in the deep pain of acknowledging some very real losses. They’ve caused my heart to mourn from a depth I haven’t touched in years. But it’s a good thing.
It’s good because those who mourn will be comforted.
And his comfort always brings great hope.
Proverbs 13: 12 says “hope deferred makes the heart sick …” For years I held onto that verse as some kind of scriptural permission slip to live in a place of heartsickness in the midst things that appeared to be unredeemed losses.
But it’s not.
Although I’ve always heard the verse referenced in a way that makes it sound like hope itself is deferred until you finally get the thing(s) you’re hoping for—that is the exact opposite of hope. Romans 8:24-5 puts it this way “But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.” So if hope, by its very definition, is based on what is unseen, how can hope possibly be “deferred” simply because we haven’t yet received the things we desire?
Having hope doesn’t mean I will see all the outcomes I long for–and I’m especially sure it doesn’t mean I’ll see things in my preferred timing! Some outcomes depend on other people and their choices, along with a multitude of other circumstances that are beyond my control (while I believe God knows about all of those things, I don’t think that means he is pulling all the strings like some grand puppet master). But regardless of circumstances I will NOT live without hope. I will NOT live at the mercy of others and their choices. I will NOT live for what I want to happen tomorrow instead of what is in front of me today.
I will NOT live with my hope deferred.
And, unfortunately, I also won’t live without heartache. Neither will you. Having hope isn’t the absence of pain, it just means we have a choice in how we deal with our pain. There is a dynamic difference between living in the heartsickness of deferred hope and walking through mourning caused by genuine heartbreak and loss. Heartsickness is a disease that makes the heart less alive and healthy; mourning is a process that leads to comfort and healing.
When circumstances are painful and I see them for what they are rather than through a religious lens of denial (i.e. false humility, false sacrifice, false surrender, etc.), I will go through times of heartache and mourning. That’s been happening a lot for me lately. It stinks. Frankly, I don’t like it very much. I haven’t got it all figured out and it isn’t always pretty. But I have discovered something about the process that is actually kind of holy and wonderful …
Those who mourn will be comforted.
And that knowledge fills me with great hope.
I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit. –Romans 15:13 NLT