Monday, April 21, 2008

Blessed Are Those Who Mourn

From Northwest Anglican:

I was reading Romans the other day, through a passage I have read many times, and a short instruction from the Apostle Paul jumped out at me. This instruction was, “mourn with those who mourn. (Romans 12:15b)” I guess part of the reason it jumped out at me was because of a recent conversation I had with a friend. This friend has been dealing with some hard times lately and he’s been grappling with depression. He is also a friend who helped get me through a battle with depression a few years ago. We both realized that part of what we appreciated about each other’s friendship was the fact that neither of us just tried to solve the other’s problem. Instead we actually “mourned with those who mourn.”It’s not that it’s never right to try to solve someone’s problems. But the reality is that often there is no easy solution to the problems and struggles a person faces. Maybe a person doesn't even have a good reason to "mourn" yet they seem unable to find joy in life. I think that there is a common assumption in our Western, modern culture which is that there is a solution to every problem if only we are intelligent enough, or perhaps from the Christian point of view, only if we know our Bible well enough or if we’re close enough to God. If this is your point of view, then a person who mourns and who cannot be easily consoled will only seem like a problem to you. Perhaps you will get frustrated with the person and avoid being around them because their mourning depresses you. But this is not obedience to the words of the Holy Spirit written down by the Apostle Paul. In Ecclesiastes, we see it affirmed that there can be a season for mourning. If we are to allow for “seasons” of mourning instead of thinking we can quickly solve every problem, and if we are seeking to love those who mourn, I think we must be obedient to the words of Paul and mourn with those who mourn.


David Handy+ said...

I think we men are especially prone to want to respond to someone who is struggling in some way by offering suggestions and trying to help fix the problem. Women are often better at just listening empathetically.

But I'd add that not only does Paul exhort us to weep with those who weep or mourn, but he also urges us to rejoice with those who rejoice. And sometimes, the latter is harder than the former, when we are feeling down ourselves or going through a hard time.

The important thing is that we are not meant to go through life alone. As Christians we are called to love each other and encourage each other as we face the many challenges of life. But requires a way of being together outside of worship on Sunday mornings that is relatively rare in TEC or other so-called "mainline" churches.

As is often noted these days, there are about 57 "one another" commands in the New Testament, and the only real way to obey those commands is by cultivating honest friendships in Christ and developing the kind of small groups where authentic relationships can flourish.

TLF+ said...

Good insights, David+. "Rejoice with those who rejoice" - ever notice how hard it is for the people to say anything when "prayers of thanksgiving" are solicited? We find it hard to rejoice in the Lord as individuals, let alone with others.

The Vestry at Good Shepherd, Sioux Falls recently studied Colossians 1:15-20 and came away with two conclusions:
1) We need to put Jesus in "first place"
2) That's hard, and we need to help one another do this.

I have to admit, it was a verrry liberal bishop (Fred Borsch) who really introduced me to the "one another" (is that allelon in Greek?) emphasis of the New Testament.