The Mystery of Mourning

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Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

“Mourning or sorrow is not in itself a good thing, for the will of God is that everyone should experience happiness and joyous success…. Nevertheless, trouble and suffering are often extremely useful, because many people will not bother to learn the Truth until driven to do so by sorrow or failure.”

—Emmet Fox

I once had a friend who had been in the Navy aboard an aircraft carrier. He said when the ship was about to enter battle the chapel was always full. After the battle the chapel would be empty. His story struck me because I had also observed this phenomenon in my work as a minister.

Personal trials and tribulations that push us past our self definition are good for this reason. They force us to stretch into new levels of self realization that ultimately broaden our horizons. As Fox points out, however, it is important that we seek broader horizons in our good times rather than depend on hard times to force us to consider the value of spiritual understanding. I would rather parachute from a plane after having taken a class or two than be forced into a first-time bail from an aircraft whose engines have failed and is presently in a tailspin heading straight for the earth.

An even deeper aspect of spiritual mourning is the acknowledgement that general feelings of dissatisfaction with life are the manifestation of the voice of God whispering that there is yet more of our self to discover. Rather than seeking solutions in this or that thing, person, or condition we begin to go within in our quiet times and listen to what God is trying to tell us. Mourning, in this sense, is a kind of spiritual homesickness, God calling us to be still and know that some deeper, more fulfilling aspect of our being is seeking to come forth. This type of mourning is not related to sadness of any sort. The discomfort we feel only means that greater comfort is awaiting our acceptance.

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