Blessed are those who mourn
Are you in need of comfort?
It’s very normal to feel sadness and great agony when we do what is contrary to our natural desires, for we are dying to self. This is what unites us to Jesus in His prayer of agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. We experience that same agony when we fight to overcome our worldly desires, our logic and our instinct for self-protection. Go ahead and weep, complain to God, and feel the pain of letting go of the desire for an easier life, because “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matt. 5:4).
To experience that comfort, which comes from the Comforter — the Holy Spirit — we need to remember that there is value in sacrificing our comfort for the sake of giving unconditional love to others.
This is the same comfort Jesus received in Gethsemane. It gave Him the strength to look beyond the cross and trust in the resurrection. Hebrews 12:2 says: “Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross….”
Do you want your faith perfected? In the terminology of scripture, “perfect” means fully receiving and giving God’s unconditional love. Do you really want to have perfect faith? I thought I did until God asked me, “Are you willing to suffer to become a better minister to My people?” If pain is the cost of obtaining perfect faith, my first answer is always “no!”
Even after I gave my “yes” to God, my flesh-nature continued to say “no.” Every time a problem arose in my relationship with the family friend who caused us so much grief, I wanted to quit rather than remain steadfast in unconditional love. I wanted to get rid of the problems quickly instead of working my way through them. However, when I took this to God and repented of these cravings of the flesh, I became interested in how the saints handled their difficulties. I learned the value of “mortifying” my attachments to this world, that is, I crucified my attachment to the illusory idea that I could have a life free from hurts and difficult relationships.
What are you attached to that is not true or not of God? What desires are you attached to? What plans? What expectations in how others should behave? What demands about how they should treat you? What worldly wisdom? What do you need to let go of in order to love everyone unconditionally? Do you have fears to give up? Attitudes? A feeling of inferiority or inadequacy?
Oh how hard it is to mortify our attachments! Try wearing your watch on the other wrist and see how attached you are to familiar routines.
Saint Teresa of Avila wrote: “I assure you that the soul and poverty of spirit pay dearly for any comfort that the body may gain.” She also said:
Unless we take great care and each of us makes it her most urgent business constantly to renounces her self-will, many things will deprive us of the holy freedom of spirit which our souls seek in order to soar to their Maker, unimpeded by any leaden weight of the earth…. It is here that true humility can enter, for this virtue and that of detachment from self, I think, always go together.
Scripture tells us, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love” (Galatians 5:6 NIV). Are we expressing our faith when we suffer? Do people see our faith when they make our lives difficult?
When we give into the desires of the flesh, we’re underestimating the God who has promised to comfort us and fill us with His joy. We’re forgetting that He’s powerful enough to help us get through anything. We’re not trusting that He will protect us from destruction nor that He will help us to grow from the experience. If God thinks we can handle our trials, then of course we can, but we have to keep in touch with Him and ask Him to give us supernatural love for the people we feel powerless to love.
IMPORTANT NOTE: God does not want us to remain in every hurtful relationship we experience. Some we are not ready for, emotionally or spiritually. And some are too abusive. We need to spend time in discernment, seeking the advice of experts, to figure out which crosses God is asking us to say “yes” to and which ones He is trying to take us away from. When the abuse is dangerous, we must not allow the abuse to continue. Often, the only way to bring healing love to a violent or sexually abusive situation is to draw healthy boundaries and enforce them. We might have to create separation until the abuser gets the counseling and anger management training he/she needs and becomes safe to live with. Only then are we called to welcome him/her back and rejoice like the father of the Prodigal Son.
Do you know what God values most? YOU! In order to love others when your flesh says “no,” you have to understand this. You have to be absolutely convinced of this. You can’t give love in difficult relationships if you’re not receiving all the love the Father is pouring into you. Ask Jesus to open your heart and mind to the greatness of His love for you. Ask Him to show you that when He was praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, He was thinking of you. It was out of love for you that He said “yes” to the cross.
© 2002 by Terry A. Modica