Painful But Useful
In Jesus’ famous sermon He mentions eight things not usually associated with happiness. Most of them are considered painful and all of them are thought difficult to achieve.
The first item on the list is “Poor in Spirit” and the second is “Mourning,” which is to say, it starts off badly and gets worse. Poor in Spirit we dealt with in the last post so we’ll talk about mourning now.
Remember that the common thread through the first section of this sermon is happiness and it seems very out of place. The eight things mentioned sound more anti-happy. We think happy people are those who avoid them and Jesus is suggesting something completely different.
The truth is every person experiences every item on the list and we see them as negatives to avoid. Jesus is suggesting they can lead to a positive outcome.
Mourning is the appropriate response to the losses we incur. It enables us to analyze, accept and make healthy adjustments after a loss. Unfortunately, we naturally and wrongfully assume happy is what we are when we avoid the loss or recover what was lost rather than get beyond it.
Types Of Loss
There are many types of loss.
- Social position
- Career postion
- Abilities through injury or age
- Relationships through death
- Material loss: money, homes, valuables
All losses are personal.
Causes of Loss
Loss is caused in many ways. Sometimes it is our fault and sometimes it is the fault of circumstances beyond our control. Some losses are good and some are not.
- Personal failure: practical and moral
- Failure by others
- Natural disasters
- Commitments we make
- Life in general
- David lost credibility when he committed adultery.
- Abraham experienced personal loss when Sara died.
- Peter lost his occupation when he followed Jesus.
- Joseph lost family and security when sold as a slave.
- Paul lost position when he committed to Jesus.
- Jeremiah lost social and political standing when he preached captivity.
All of these men, however, died happy, in a good place. They were comforted in the end.
Observation shows and Jesus suggested that mourning properly done is healthy and renewing and He also suggested that loss is normal and usual, not to mention universal. Everyone experiences loss. It is impossible not too.
We live in a faulty world and entertain faulty ideas. We think of loss as a possibility, Jesus was suggesting it is inevitable. The appropriate biblical response to loss is learning to cope with it. Trying to regain every loss is like living in the past.
Many people experience loss and never recover from it. Their sorrow consumes them and Jesus clearly indicated that mourning results in comfort. So logically that would mean mourning is more than just emotional pain. It involves a process that leads us through and beyond the pain.
Mourning enables us to:
- Adjust when loved ones die.
- Make corrections when we fail, morally or practically.
- Rebuild when natural disasters strike.
Mourning is a way of facing and exploring our losses with both heart and head. We learn from one loss how to avoid the same loss again. We also learn that to recover things lost is sometimes a waste of time and energy – throwing good money after bad.
People who learn best from their losses:
- Insure potential losses.
- Plan better ways to absorb potential losses.
- Figure out better ways to replace losses.
- Sue only when there is no other proper option and is the right thing to do.
- And realize that doing anything else only leads to bitterness.
Some of these responses help relieve future pain by enabling us to learn from the experiences.
Some responses, used wrongly, do little to fill the vacuum created by the loss. Suing others focuses on the past but adjusting changes the future.
Forgetting the loss is not the point and isn’t possible. Distractions can relieve the pain for only a short period. Being consumed by the loss creates additional loss and ends in bitterness. None of these things bring comfort.
To mourn a loss properly you must ask and answer several questions:
- What was lost?
- Why was it lost?
- Can the loss be regained?
- If not what adjustments must be made to recover?
- What must be changed to avoid similar losses in the future?
Mourning does not recover losses. It finds constructive ways to accept them and makes the best of difficult situations.
An example of someone who failed to mourn his losses properly is Esau. He lost his birthright, it was his fault and he never accepted this.
The Bible actually says he continued trying to recover the lost privilege and could find no way of making this happen. He eventually became bitter because of it. People who fail to mourn their losses, like Esau, become delusional. There is no comfort in that.
Jesus is teaching us to accept the losses that cannot be recovered and move on. The eventual outcome is comfort.
What losses have you incurred and how have your responded? THINK!AboutIt