My heart in my throat, I prayed, crying out to the Lord for some of the precious ones that I love and the suffocating circumstances surrounding them. And as I prayed, I heard Him say,
It’s okay to mourn.
And with that go-ahead, my heart poured out in what felt like pent up breath, in a prayer of lament for these dear ones, so in need, a longing for wrong things to be made right.
Jesus called those who mourn, blessed. He said it is those who mourn who will be comforted and warned those who only laugh now (Matt. 5:4; Lk. 6:21, 25). Yes, it’s okay to mourn—it’s even right that we do. It’s okay to take our pain and our trouble, our perplexity and confusion, and pour it out in mourning to the Lord. In fact, it’s in offering to the Lord our achings—over all of the wrongs and the troubles around us—that our hearts are bound to His and preserved from offense.
Look closely at the eyes of those with tears of mourning and you will see hope brimming, not despair. They know something and Someone so contradictory to this present evil age (Gal. 1:4). Their tears are not lack of trust but fruit of trust—not a riff in intimacy, but a sign of intimacy. Their tears sing the song of a coming day.
Oftentimes our offense at God is simply misplaced mourning. When pain comes and trouble strikes, as it does for every heart, we become perplexed and confused. Though Jesus said, In this world, you will have trouble, we find ourselves expecting to be kept from harm—for all to go well—and thrown when crisis hits (Jn. 16:33). Rather than responding to the difficulty by way of a trusting love and a renewed yearning for His promise—the day when He will at last come and sorrow and sighing will flee away—it strikes us in the present as mistreatment or neglect from Him, and our hearts move closer towards offense.
Is it possible that much of the offense in our hearts is because we’ve let go or lost sight of the rest of the Story, our future hope (1 Pet. 1:13-18)? And thus, instead of trouble causing tears that know the One who has overcome the world to glisten in our eyes, we let it form in us an accusation against Him for allowing these struggles in the present day (Tit. 2:13; Jn. 16:33)? Afflictions and tribulations cause our hearts to stagger in confusion rather than to increase the ache for the day He will come and put it all to an end (2 Pet. 3:13).
Instead of taking our difficult circumstances and allowing them to forge a more poignant longing for Him in us, we wield an arrow of accusation at the Lord and call His goodness into question. We pray, Why did you allow this? instead of, How long, O Lord? We cry, How are You good if you allow this evil? rather than, How long until Your goodness covers the earth? (Hab. 2:14; Ps. 27:13-14; Job 19:25-27).
A People of Hope
These tears of mourning are not in opposition to rejoicing but deeply tied to it in that both mourning and rejoicing are responses knit to future HOPE. They are two sides of the same coin, so to speak—the coin of Hope. Our joy is not a contentedness at the way things are, but a confidence in the way things will be. It isn’t a joy of circumstance, but of our union to Christ and incorruptible inheritance, regardless of circumstance.
We are a people of hope and because we look ahead to the future hope and certainty, we rejoice in that hope and we mourn until that hope is fully realized (Rom. 12:12; Heb. 3:6; Rom. 5:2). We know that things will not always be this way and that the kindest and most righteous One who is seated on the throne will soon come and He will zealously make the wrong things right. We know that this is not how it was meant to be and not how it will always be — and until that gap closes, we look longingly and hopefully to the day He will put an end to darkness (Rom. 8:23-25).
Instead of Offense, Yearning
Hearts that mourn are eyes that see beyond the present circumstances to the coming glory and beauty. C.S. Lewis said, “The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing to reach the mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from.” This longing is sweet in its promise and without its hope, we are are of those most to be pitied (1 Cor. 15:19).
Thus, when trouble comes and when we face the adversities that Jesus said would come, finding ourselves in the vice grip of hardship, let us remember what to do with our apprehensive hearts. Let us renew our longing—bursting with promise—to the future certainty. He will not be silent to the flood of ungodliness. The Morning Star will rise and the long night will at last be over (2 Pet. 1:19). He will come. He will heal every disease. He will make the wrong things right and all things new. He will drive out wickedness and fill the earth with righteousness. Of His government and peace, there will be no end (Is. 9:7; Rev. 21:3-5).
We are those with tears of longing in our eyes—tears that wash us from offense and anchor us in hope, tears that are testaments to a day when there will be no more pain, when sorrow and sighing will flee away, and finally, He will wipe every tear from our eyes (Rev. 21:4).