Happy Sorrow

David Bast

Read: 2 Corinthians 7:9-10

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. (Matt. 5:4)

What kind of sorrow is “happy sorrow”? Jesus does not narrow it down to one particular type of grief. He says simply, “Blessed are those who mourn.” There is something wonderful about the fact that God’s blessing rests upon people who are sad or bereaved. God’s comfort is promised to the broken-hearted, not the carefree.

But the Beatitudes are primarily concerned with our spiritual condition rather than our emotional state. Just as the poverty that Jesus spoke about in the first beatitude referred to the humility of the poor in spirit, so the mourning of which he speaks here is primarily spiritual grief. It is sorrow for sin—for our own sins and shortcomings, but also for the tragic brokenness of a sin-ravaged world.

It’s not so much the sorrow that is blessed, in and of itself. The blessedness of mourning lies more in what our sorrow can lead to. The apostle wrote about “godly grief,” which is the kind of sorrow for sin that leads to repentance and ultimately to salvation (2 Cor. 7:9-10). The premier expression of this kind of grief in Scripture is in the penitential psalms, where David reminds us that the most acceptable sacrifice we can offer to God is a broken and contrite heart (Ps. 51:17).

Jesus’ disciples will always seek to cultivate the sorrow that produces repentance—until the day when the Lord wipes away all our tears, and sorrow and sighing flee away. —David Bast

Prayer: Lord, may your comfort be with all who mourn.