Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted (Matthew 5:4).
This stark promise of comfort can provoke initial discomfort. In happy or quiescent times, we might prefer to avoid the subject of grief. Moreover, when mourning grips our bones, we might prefer to put down our Bibles and stare into space because this Beatitude promises miraculous hope, and such hope can threaten us at first.
Thus says the Lord: A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more (Jeremiah 31:15).
After the siege and brutal killing of some and exile of others from Judah, Rachel refuses consolation because hope exposes the open wound too much too soon. Amid irreversible losses and pervasive pain, the promise of comfort threatens to restore the same vulnerability. The open heart dashed with loss before can be dashed again. In pain, we may read this Beatitude and like Rachel, refuse the comfort, preferring to keep up our guard against fickle, traitorous fate.
Yet, the courage of faith lies in its insistence on letting down that guard and risking pain again. God always works for the healing of hearts and the restoration of bonds despite the rough ride. Ultimately, God works miracles.
This Beatitude anticipates resurrection, and it remembers the liberation of a cruelly oppressed slave nation that passed to safety through parted waters and the homecoming of the same exiled people Rachel lamented. Following God takes the grit to believe in such miracles of comfort when it seems safer to numb ourselves in resignation. We can do it because even in our deepest pain, God wove in the warp and woof of our souls enough sturdy material for the courage of faith, for the willingness to risk vulnerability and trust again after apparent betrayal by loved ones and even by God.
The courage of faith does not preclude doing what we must to keep safe. It does not mean that the repeatedly abused spouse must submit to the abuser again or that the oppressed minority should mute protest. But it does mean that holding the hope for comfort amid our most wrenching anguish will keep us attentive to the image of God woven into our hearts. For Love formed us for Love, and Love suffers on the way to true comfort.
Respect your suffering, and don’t give up on God. You will be comforted.