This past All Saints Day we again heard those wonderful words of Jesus, recorded as the Beatitudes in Matthew’s gospel chapter 5…and I would like to highlight one of the verses in particular:
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”- Matt 5:4 (NIV)
The past week we have all received the very sad news about members of our worshiping community as well as our school community who have been called home to the Lord. They were both loved by many and are now with God in heaven, free of aches and pains and ongoing medical procedures for the rest of their eternity. We were surprised, we are sad, and we will miss them. We won’t “move on”, we won’t “get over it”, we will, however, move forward with memories that will make us smile and appreciate what Don and Alison has added to each of our lives, and what a wonderful part of our lives they have been.
It is precisely because they have been such a wonderful part, in many and various ways, to our community, that we will miss them so dearly…and the sadness that comes with that “missing” will be around to varying degrees for a while, yet this is a good thing.
But wait a minute, how is being sad a good thing?
Well, if we treat our emotions as gauges, and not as guides, we can learn a lot from, and learn not to be afraid of, being sad. So what can we learn from this particular sadness?
1. Sadness tells us that someone mattered and that there was a significant and healthy relationship with someone who had a positive impact on our lives.
2. Sadness brings to mind those wonderfully significant and endearing memories of the person we miss. They still influence us positively; they will be a part of our journey for life.
3. The memories that come in our sadness, helps joy to return to our world.
This is precisely why Jesus tells his followers “blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted”. It is when we mourn that we discover the depth of love lived with someone amazing. It is when we mourn that we remember memories that made knowing the person we mourn so special. It is when we mourn that we turn to God, the giver of life and joy and it is then when we are able to return to a more meaningful joy and life.
So here is my encouragement to you. Embrace your sadness, let it flood you with wonderful memories, and let it grow you in a more meaningful joy. God gave us this gift so that we can move forward in love and with purpose. And God is with us, so that, while we embrace the gift of sadness, we are never alone.
If you have been close, to any varying degree, to Alison James or Don Park, then know that even though God has called them to their eternal pain-free and hurt-free home; that this is not the end of Don’s book or Alison’s book, but merely the conclusion of one chapter of all of our collective stories, and their memory will now continue throughout the remaining narrative of our lives.
Because of Jesus Don and Alison are now in the most wonderful eternity. Because of Jesus we can join them again one day. Because of Jesus we have a comforter ever close to us right now.