“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:8 ESV)
Last weekend I had the privilege of staying at a very nice Marriott hotel in southern California. It was situated right next to the ocean and boasted beautiful views that just took your breath away. During my stay, an unexpected thing took place: there was a pro-life demonstration outside the hotel. Apparently Marriott gives money to an organization that supports Planned Parenthood (or something to that effect) so the protesters were carrying posters to make people aware of this fact as well as larger signs with graphic images of aborted babies on them. What I found so striking about this particular protest was that it was going on at the same exact time as a wedding at the hotel. In fact, guests of the wedding had to drive right past the protesters to get to the celebration.
In one day, at one location, two very different stories were being told: One group of people was lamenting the ongoing, horrific murdering of precious human lives while the other group was celebrating as a bride and groom joyfully dedicated their lives to one another. There was mourning and rejoicing all at once (as is so often the case in this world).
I was acutely aware of this paradox because something strikingly similar was going on in my own life. The very reason I was there, staying in such a nice hotel, viewing such beautiful sunsets over the Pacific was for my grandmother’s funeral. The sorrow surrounding such a time of loss infects every aspect of life. Though I had the joy of visiting with family I hadn’t seen in years and was able to spend some precious one-on-one time with my little Owen (who, since he is still breastfeeding, made the trek to California with me), such happy moments were mingled with the painful reality of my grandmother’s death. Like a fog hanging over a city, the knowledge of her passing and the pain of losing her, clung to our every activity. Though there was much joy, there was much sorrow.
The more I thought about the gruesome images of aborted babies alongside the joyous scenes of a wedding celebration, the more I felt it was a fitting picture of our lives as redeemed people living in a fallen world. You see, when the Holy Spirit draws us to the Father he changes our citizenship. Though we were once citizens of the world, now we are citizens of Heaven; though we were once members of Satan’s kingdom, now we are members of Christ’s. We have been plucked out of the darkness of a sin-infested world and made holy by the blood of the Lamb. We who were once enemies of God are now beloved children who experience joy and peace beyond comprehension. And yet, we are not untouched by the fallenness around us.
We continue to deal with a world marred by the effects of sin. Our bodies waste away, succumbing to horrible diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s. We live through terrifying events like the Boston explosions. We are members of countries that accept the killing of innocent and powerless babies in the name of reproductive “rights.” No, the redeemed people of God have not been removed from the pains and trials that are a result of sin, we live smack dab in the middle of a fallen world.
It is a mistake to think that as Christians we will be untouched by the sorrows of this world. In fact, as my pastor encouraged this weekend, those whose eyes have been opened to spiritual realities should be the most grieved over the effects of sin. We should continually be lamenting the evil that exists in this world because we have been awakened to the beauty and holiness of God. We should constantly be fighting against the powers of darkness because we have been made children of the light. We are blessed to mourn, because we know that we will one day be comforted by our Heavenly Father. We know that the trials of this life are nothing when compared to the joy set before us, the hope of an eternity spent with Christ.
So, as we walk through this perilous world, ruled by the prince of the power of the air, where helpless infants are dismembered in their mother’s wombs, we journey and fight as those who have been married to the King of the Universe. We, the bride of Christ, are joined to the ultimate Conquerer.We fellowship with the Savior who will one day put all things right, who will judge every evil action, and who will raise our perishing bodies from the dead. Though evil and pain and sorrow surround us, there is great joy and celebration within the heart of every man and woman who has been united to Christ because all else is eclipsed by the great love of our Savior.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you,who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so thatthe tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtainingthe outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls.“ (1 Peter 1:3-9 ESV)