When we think of mourning, we often apply it to our own losses and unfound desires, or those of our family and friends. As a Christian, I understand that there is also another kind of mourning, a grief which is closely aligned to the worldview of a follower of Christ. It’s the deep sadness we feel for the fallen condition of the world in which we live, at a general and a more personal level.
There is a verse that stands out for me in the first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 13, the apostle Paul’s great chapter describing love, so often quoted at weddings. Verse six reads “Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth.” So often in everyday interactions the conversation can turn to the latest tragedy affecting someone else’s life – the news reports are full of these stories. “Isn’t it awful” we say, without much real empathy. I’ve done so myself, many times. Sometimes the sinfulness in the lives of others can be a source of conversation. Needlessly we retell a juicy piece of gossip about someone, not stopping to consider if the information is true, or kind, or necessary.
Jesus mourned over the state of evil in the world that He came to redeem. As He entered Jerusalem to begin His painful journey of suffering unto death on a cross, He wept over the sinfulness and hardness of heart in the city. His heart was ever full of tenderness for those who acknowledged their brokenness and need for a Saviour.
We are told that since the original fall of mankind “all creation has been groaning” (Romans 8:22). We not only see the wickedness of mankind, but the results of the fall in nature- competition and death, climactic weather events and a struggle for survival. We mourn both the natural and manmade impact on God’s beautiful creation and long for a time when a new heaven and earth will be recreated for God’s glory.
When we have the tenderness of the Holy Spirit within us, we cannot help but be moved by the circumstances of others. Missionaries return from other lands overwhelmed but the vastness of poverty and suffering in some areas and the contrast with the affluence and indifference which can impact upon them when they return home. In our western world we see the impact upon lives of a culture which increasingly dismisses God. Christians do not sit in judgement – they know the precepts for a happy life that God has ordained, and the consequences in the lives of those who reject them. We are called to love everyone, without condoning their behaviour.
This kind of mourning is one which stirs the body of Christ to action, to its mission of proclaiming the good news of redemption. The church was never meant to be a social club. Its purpose is to glorify God by telling the world about Him. It’s to give hope, and that’s the real cause for celebration at Easter, a reason for joy.
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
3 To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.”