Why Mourning Can Be Good for Us

Grieve for Sin

It’s good to mourn, it’s healthy to be sad, and it’s appropriate to groan. Something is wrong with us, something is missing in our hearts and our understanding of life, if we are able to look around and look inside and not grieve. You don’t have to look very far to see that we live, work, and relate in a world that has been twisted and bent by sin, so much so that it doesn’t function at all in the way God intended. The sin-scarred condition of the world is obvious in your home, your neighborhood, and your church. We see it in government, politics, business, education, entertainment, and the internet. 

In Romans 8, Paul captures the sad condition of the world in three provocative phrases that should break our hearts: 

“subjected to futility” (Rom. 8:20
“its bondage to corruption” (Rom. 8:21
“in the pains of childbirth” (Rom. 8:22

We should be rejoicing people, because we have, in the redemption that is ours in Christ Jesus, eternal reason to rejoice. But this side of our final home, our rejoicing should be mixed with weeping as we witness, experience, and, sadly, give way to the presence and power of evil. Christ taught in his most lengthy recorded sermon, the Sermon on the Mount, that those who mourn are blessed, so it’s important to understand why. Mourning means you recognize the most important reality in the human existence, sin.

Mourning means you have been hit by the weight of what it has done to you and to everyone you know. Mourning says you have considered the devastating fact that life right here, right now, is one big spiritual war. Mourning means that you have come to realize, as you get up in the morning, that once again you will be greeted with a catalog of temptations. Mourning means you know that there really are spiritual enemies out there meaning to do you harm. Mourning results when you confess that there are places where your heart still wanders. 

Call for Help

But mourning does something wonderful to you. The sad realities that cause you to mourn also cause you to cry out for the help, rescue, forgiveness, and deliverance of a Redeemer. Jesus said that if you mourn, you will be comforted. He’s not talking about the comfort of elevated feelings. He’s talking about the comfort of the presence and grace of a Redeemer, who meets you in your mourning, hears your cries for help, comes to you in saving mercy, and wraps arms of eternal love around you. It’s the comfort of knowing that you’re forgiven, being restored, now living in a reconciled relationship with the one who made you, and now living with your destiny secure. 

Mourning sin—past, present, and future—is the first step in seeking and celebrating the divine grace that is the hope of everyone whose heart has been made able to see by that very same grace. 

So it is right and beneficial to take a season of the year to reevaluate, recalibrate, and have the values of our hearts clarified once again. Lent is such a season. As we approach Holy Week, where we remember the sacrifice, suffering, and resurrection of our Savior, it’s good to give ourselves to humble and thankful mourning. Lent is about remembering the suffering and sacrifice of the Savior. Lent is about confessing our ongoing battle with sin. Lent is about fasting, and not just from food; we willingly and joyfully let go of things in this world that have too much of a hold on us. And Lent is about giving ourselves in a more focused way to prayer, crying out for the help that we desperately need from the only one who is able to give it. 

As you stop, consider, mourn, confess, pray, and give your heart to thanksgiving, may you step away from the tyranny of a busy life, with its seemingly endless demands, and consider the most important thing that’s happened to you, your most important struggle, and the most wonderful gift that you have ever been given. And as you do this, may you open your heart and your hands and let go of things that you not only hold, but that have taken ahold of you. May this free you to seek your Savior more fully, to celebrate him more deeply, and to follow him more faithfully. 

Let’s follow Jesus on his journey to the cross. The horrible, public sacrifice of Jesus should ignite not only our celebration, but also our mourning. The cross confronts us with who we really are (sinners) and what we need (rescuing and forgiving grace). How can you consider what Christ willingly suffered because of our sin and not mourn the sin that remains? How could you consider how lost you were and how spiritually needy you still are and not celebrate the grace of the cross?

This article is adapted from Journey to the Cross: A 40-Day Lenten Devotionalby Paul David Tripp.

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