Saturday, September 10, 2016

God's Presence Supervenes Upon My Sadness

Linda, in Ann Arbor
Blessed are those who mourn,
    for they will be comforted.

Matthew 5:4

As I have stayed close to God I have experienced, at times, a comfort that passes my human understanding. This does not mean I have not mourned and grieved. These words of Jesus do not promise the elimination of sorrow. It does mean that God's presence supervened upon my sadness, like a face appearing out of a dot matrix drawing, like beauty as an emergent property of ashes.



“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.
The Message (Matt. 5:4)

I mourned when I lost my parents and Linda's parents and my baby son. I experienced comfort in the midst of losing them. If I didn't have God-with-me I might have returned to alcohol and drugs. 

New Testament scholar Craig Evans says Matthew 5:4 alludes to a passage like Isaiah 61:1-3. (Evans, Matthew, 105) Matthew 5:4 is rooted in this ancient promise.

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,
    because the Lord has anointed me

    to proclaim good news to the poor.

He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,

    to proclaim freedom for the captives

    and release from darkness for the prisoners,

to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor
    and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion - 
to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes,
the oil of joy instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.


Things fall apart. Loss happens. God holds me together so I don't fall apart, binding me up when I'm about to unravel. 

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I write about how praying brings comfort in my book - Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God.