Text: Matthew 5:4, Isaiah 61:1-3, Romans 7:21-25, 2 Corinthians 7:8-10
Fifteen years ago, during a bleak February chill, I awoke early and jumped in the shower, ready to head back to the hospital. I’d been without our firstborn son—still less than a week old—for almost eight hours. And it was killing me.
The phone rang, and I heard Gabe answer. I knew it was the doctor calling with the lab results. Sixty seconds crawled by before Gabe cracked open the bathroom door. Seeing the look on his face, I collapsed.
There will never be words to describe the pain I felt at that moment. I had no idea I was capable of such grief, yet there I was, wailing. I could not shed the anguish fast enough.
Gabe and I drove to the hospital in silence. I realized I didn’t know a single person with Down syndrome. I was ashamed I’d overlooked this community, a sorority of mothers whose children had Down syndrome—a sorority to which I now belonged.
Some people have been taught that the Christian life makes no room for sadness, gives no permission to mourn, allows no time for lament. This kind of mental toughness might seem a practical approach for immediate survival, but unexpressed grief can become a bitterness that chokes us. When we dull our pain, we dull our joy. When we numb our lows, we numb our highs.
Jesus has a different perspective on grief. He never lacked emotion or expression. He “was a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief” (Isaiah 53:3). And in His impassioned Sermon on the Mount, He gives us this promise: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).
When we grieve—not if—we will be comforted.
Not long after His sermon, Jesus experienced this for Himself. “He took Peter and Zebedee’s two sons, James and John, and He became anguished and distressed. He told them, ‘My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me’” (Matthew 26:37).
Jesus wept from empathy, from disappointment, from pain. He mourned, and when He was finished mourning, He surrendered to the work of God—work that brought great freedom to all of us.
Since that fateful February morning, I’ve grieved with friends who have walked through fear and loss. Loss of love and marriage vows. Loss of sanity and peace. Loss of life, in the womb and out. And I’ve watched those same folks experience the death of their own will, and by His grace, receive Jesus’ comfort instead.
None of us wants to encounter such deep grief in our lifetimes. But the more we mourn our sin and need, pain and loss, the more we can trust and anticipate the gracious comfort Christ Jesus promises to bring.