To unfold the rest of Jesus’ second beatitude – “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4, NASB95) – I’d like to paint you a picture. Consider a boy in a baseball uniform. He’s returning to the dugout after his turn at bat. The bat is no longer poised and ready to strike but is being dragged through the dirt in defeat. His head is down and his shoulders slumped forward. He sees nothing but that last failed swing, he hears nothing but the thud of the ball against the catcher’s mitt. Tears roll down his cheeks as he plods back to the bench, his mind frozen by the umpire’s last call. To understand the boy’s emotions we must look into his heart. For the boy’s tears are not from feelings of injustice, rejection, or the sting of personal failure. It’s not because he lost or is embarrassed at striking out. He is not even anxious about the team’s retribution or the coach’s harsh words. The boy walks past the bench to a man standing further down the third base fence. “I’m sorry dad,” the boy whispers. The dad reaches over the fence, lifting the boy’s chin.
“That last ball was in your wheelhouse, do you know what you did wrong?” the dad gently asks. The boy slowly shakes his head. “You took your eyes off of the ball.”
“I’m sorry dad,” the boy says again with a little more confidence.
“You’ll get it next time, I love you.”
“Thanks, dad,” the boy says with a growing smile and returns to sit with the rest of the team.
Now we must make a leap and extend the picture to sin and the pain it causes our heavenly Father. For while the promise of comfort is granted those that mourn the loss of a loved one, the Bible also says much about grieving over sin. Consider David’s lament, “For my iniquities are gone over my head; As a heavy burden they weigh too much for me. My wounds grow foul and fester Because of my folly. I am bent over and greatly bowed down; I go mourning all day long.” (Psalm 38:4–6, NASB95) Ok, let’s be frank. Most of the time we don’t grieve over sin, we may shed a few tears when we know we’ve been caught, we may grow anxious as we face the consequence of our actions, but little do we consider what our sin has done to our relationship with God. In another Psalm, David declares, “For I know my transgressions, And my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, I have sinned And done what is evil in Your sight, So that You are justified when You speak And blameless when You judge.” (Psalm 51:3–4, NASB95) The sin David is lamenting over is all of his failures in his debacle with Bathsheba. Even though David sinned against several individuals he realizes that the greater sin is his own rebellion against God by ignoring His commandments. A little later in the same Psalm David writes, “Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation; Then my tongue will joyfully sing of Your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, That my mouth may declare Your praise. For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” (Psalm 51:14–17, NASB95) Guilt does not feel good, most of us desire to dispose of it quickly, like a piece of rancid meat. While I know that God desires to completely forgive our sin I wonder if it wouldn’t do our hearts good to consider for a moment the cost of that lie, that piece of gossip, that lustful look, that moment of anger, that self-centered decision, or that flare of jealousy. In a way, that is what confession is all about; agreeing with God about our sin. Not just agreeing in a legal sense that we have sinned. Not just feeling bad that our words, thoughts, and deeds of action or inaction have violated God’s desires and commandments. But also arriving at a place where our hearts are feeling the same grief that God feels over our sins.
The promise, of course, is that those who mourn are blessed of God because they shall be comforted and encouraged. It is a great comfort to know that our sins are washed whiter than snow. That through confession and repentance at the Cross of Christ our relationship with God is fully and completely restored. That He lifts our head, wipes our tears, and encourages us to stay in the game.