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Mourning to Dancing

“‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted’” (Matthew 5:4).

Jesus liked to turn things upside-down. He spent the majority of His three years of ministry explaining the Scriptures and proclaiming in no uncertain terms that the religious leaders had completely missed God’s point. In His famous Sermon on the Mount, He especially threw the prevailing opinions into turmoil by claiming that it was the weak, the sufferers, and the poor who were most blessed in the Kingdom of Heaven.

The Pharisees, the Jewish religious leaders in Jesus’ day, taught that being blessed by God amounted to material wealth. If someone was well off, then clearly he was favored by God. If someone were experiencing hardships, however, it was a sign that he had committed some sin and needed to repent. Troubles were equated with God’s judgment, something to get rid of as soon as possible.

Jesus, however, said otherwise. “Blessed are those who mourn,” He declared, “for they shall be comforted.” He also blessed those who were persecuted and slandered. By the standards of His day, these were not categories anyone wanted to fall under. Yet according to Jesus, these were the very categories the people ought to have striven for.

This is not to say that Jesus promoted asceticism—that is, deliberately depriving oneself of pleasant things for the purposes of holiness. Rather, Jesus knew that there is far more to an abundant life than health and prosperity. Those who mourned were blessed because they would one day receive comfort. They could look to the God who loved them and had a beautiful plan for them, and they could see His mercy and His deliverance. Their suffering could be sweet, because it came with the hope of redemption.

As King David wrote in Psalm 30, “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing.”

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