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Help is on the Way!

11/02/2024 - Jody Destry

Everybody knows what it feels like to have a guilty conscience. To have done something we know we should’t have done.

And as we get older, we get more sophisticated at justifying our questionable behaviour to ourselves.

If we’re honest, we all still do things from time to time that we know we probably shouldn’t do but we’re way better at convincing ourselves why it’s really not that bad.

We say things ourselves like…..

I’m a good person

I try to do the right things

I’m kind be kind to others

I pay my taxes.

I don’t steal

I try not to lie

haven’t murdered anyone….

I’m trying to be a decent contributing member of society….

So, this little sin over here…. or this little white lie over there …..this little secret over here… it isn’t really hurting anyone…so it’s not so bad, right?!

Church & Culture:

In Church we tend to major on the grace message and minor on the sin message because it’s more comfortable. It’s more palatable and acceptable to talk about the positive stuff than the hard stuff.  When we talk about grace we’re assuming the reality of sin but just don’t really like to talk about it that much.

In 2024, we find ourselves living in a very individualistic culture where it’s more about ‘your’ truth than ‘The’ truth. Where, ‘you do you’ is widely accepted often over and above the way of life Jesus calls us to if we choose to follow him and be his disciples.

The thing is though, the bible doesn’t shy away from talking about the hard stuff – we just often have selective hearing and selective reading.

Today’s scripture: Matt 5:4

‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted’ (NIV)

Jesus makes a radical statement here – we would never say to someone who is grieving would we?  Oh, you’re grieving, look how blessed you are!

And if someone said that to us in the middle of a difficult time in our lives we would probably not receive it well at all.

It poses some big questions for us:

What is Jesus actually saying?

What kind of mourning is he talking about?

What kind of comfort is he promising?

How can experiencing grief possibly be the good life?

Who was Jesus talking to?

– Jewish villagers under Roman occupation

– Ordinary people – farmers, fishermen, women, children, tax collectors, sex workers.

  • living under the oppression of Roman rule, they’ve all but lost hope of any kind of deliveranc and believing their current circumstance is a direct result of their sinful ways – they had turned away from God and not been faithful to him.

They were mourning a future that felt hopeless

They were mourning over their own sin and brokenness

They were mourning over the state of their city

What kind of mourning was Jesus talking about?

Mourn – Greek verb = Pentheo – to mourn over one’s sin and brokenness (spiritual mourning over the state of one’s soul and circumstance)

We struggle to identify with this kind of mourning – it’s counter-cultural to us and a lot of the time, we honestly don’t see ourselves as people in need of a saviour.

“The present age is definitely not an age of mourning. Instead, people deliberately turn away from anything unpleasant, determined to fill their lives with those things which will divert their minds from anything serious. In their preoccupation with momentary pleasures and diversions, people settle for shallow and empty substitutes for reality. Millions give more thought to what programs they will watch tonight on TNT, or what videotape they will rent for the weekend than they do to the things of eternity.”  – Billy Graham –

Jesus is saying this kind of mourning is necessary. Not just necessary – but good for us – ‘the good life’.

In other words, “You’re blessed when you can humbly acknowledge your sin and brokenness and grieve over it, for then you shall receive the comfort of forgiveness and healing”.

But there’s also a school of thought that would say Jesus wasn’t just talking about personal sin and brokenness but the grief and sadness that comes from living in a world ruled by death – in this earthly world where death has the final word – but in the Kingdom Jesus is talking about,  death is swallowed up in victory and the promise is eternal comfort and eternal life.

The invitation in this scripture is to be present to our grief – to be honest to it with God – and not to ignore our need for comfort.

What kind of comfort is Jesus talking about?

Greek //

Comforted

παρακαλέω / parakaleó (verb)

Q: comforted by who or what?

Comforter

παράκλητος (paraklētos) (noun)

PARACLETE – One called alongside to standby.

Amazingly – this is same word that we see in John 14 & 16 that Jesus uses to describe the Holy Spirit who was coming.

When we ignore our need for comfort we cannot invite The Comforter into those places of pain to bring us the help and the relief that we so desperately need.

The Promise:

Help is on the way!

You do not have to be alone in your grief.

The Paraclete has been called to come and stand alongside you

He will advocate for you

He will console you   

The promise is not that our grief would be removed instantaneously – but that in the midst of our grief and our pain we would experience the deep comfort of the Paraclete – our advocate, our counsellor and our standby.

“You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you. (MSG)