Happiness Part 2 : Funeral Parlors or Fantastic Parties?
As we continue to work through the ‘Kingdom Manifesto’ (Matthew 5), Jesus says in verse 4, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.“
At first thought – this seems ludicrous. Is Jesus really saying, ‘…you will be supremely happy if you go to lots of funerals?’ In Ecclesiastes, it says, ‘…It is better to go to a house of mourning than a house of feasting…’
I imagine, like myself, most ‘normal’ people would choose a party over a funeral any day of the week. So how can it be more of a blessing to mourn rather than party?
Here’s the point, I think. I rarely have deep, profound thoughts about eternity and the purpose of life when I’m enjoying onion bhajees, and perhaps a glass of red wine.
But when ‘mourning’ I may perhaps stop long enough to reflect on ‘the bigger issues of life…’ I may stop long enough to hear God whisper his divine wisdom and perspective in my ear.
A few years ago, our family were forced to deal with my father-in-law’s ultimately terminal cancer. As a family, we had no choice. It was a painful, distressing and traumatic time. We watched a godly man battle with great grace, dignity and faith, but ultimately succumb to his illness.
Horrible though it was, it did cause us, as a family, go to God with our questions, tears, anger and confusion, often our knees in great anguish as he got more and more poorly. It wasn’t a blessing at the time – but we did get wiser, as the “Comforter” gave us the Father’s perspective.
If you’re like me, you spend most of your life trying to avoid pain and pursuing comfort.
We’ve just bought new sofas with electric recliners! A perfect night in is a real fire, a good film, with a full stomach, snuggled up with my family, whilst reclined horizontally. And there really is nothing wrong with this. (Try it, it’s awesome!)
But here is a reality :
When life is super comfortable, we rarely engage in deep heart examination concerning our attitudes, values & what drives us.
Another commentator said,
Only feelings of utter desolation drive us to deal radically with God.
A friend of mine who just lost, suddenly, his 34-year-old son, is 18 months into a grieving process. He told me, ‘Andrew, there are some things you cannot learn about God apart from suffering.’
That’s why Paul said, ‘…I want to know Christ, to know the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of his suffering. (Phil 3 : 10)
What I am not suggesting for a moment is that should never go to parties, eat good food, or own a reclining sofa.
What I am suggesting is that when we are challenged by painful circumstances, we should not “waste our suffering.” Our trial may be our friend, not caused, but permitted, by God, to make us wiser, and produce character and maturity.