The Savior’s statement, “Blessed are those that mourn, for they shall be comforted,” is like a healing balm for the wounded soul. When I reflect on that statement, I can’t help but ask myself several questions. What does it mean to mourn? What are the causes of mourning? How shall those who mourn be comforted? In this article, we’ll explore the answers to those questions and strive to come to a better understanding behind this powerful statement and why it brings solace to the soul.
What Does It Mean to Mourn?
Webster’s dictionary defines mourning in a couple of ways. According to Merriam Webster’s online dictionary, to mourn can mean “to feel or show great sadness because someone has died.” Second, to mourn can mean, “to feel or show great sadness or unhappiness about (something).” We’ve all experienced that deep sadness at some point in our lives.
What are the Causes of Mourning?
Generally, when we hear the word mourning, we automatically think of the first definition. We’ve all experienced the “great sadness” described either directly due to the loss of someone close to us, or vicariously due to the loss of someone close to a friend.
Additionally, we’ve all experienced the sadness that comes through reading, watching, or hearing about the various tragedies involving death that are continuously being reported in the news. Many of us have also experienced the mourning that comes with the loss of a beloved pet.
No matter what the event was we can all sympathize, and in many cases, deeply empathize with those who have cause to mourn because of a death.
There are other sources of mourning, however, in addition to mourning because someone has died. Many mourn due to the consequences of their own poor choices which have led to deep personal sorrow and heartache and also brought pain and suffering to their loved ones. Others mourn because of the foolish choices of loved ones, friends, or neighbors, which choices may have inflicted misery on those around them. Still, others mourn with, what is called in scripture, “the sorrowing of the damned, because the Lord would not always suffer them to take happiness in sin,” (Mormon 2:13-BOM)
How Shall Those Who Mourn Be Comforted?
Comfort in Times of Loss
No matter the cause of our mourning, there is only one true source of comfort–the Savior Jesus Christ. Through His loving grace and marvelous Atonement, we can all receive the comfort when we are facing our own challenges.
For those who mourn because of the loss of a loved one or a beloved bet, if we will turn to God and exercise faith in Christ, the promise is, as given in John 14:18, “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come unto you.”
Further, He promises the faithful that He will give them peace, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid,” (John 14:27) How will that peace come? It will come through the Holy Ghost, Christ’s messenger, who will come and calm our souls and bind up our spiritual wounds.
Additionally, those who stand in need of comfort, who seek the Lord diligently, pleading for strength and relief, will receive an answer their prayers through the ministrations of others. Many are the miracles that have been wrought through friends that have been there in times of trouble to put their arms around those who mourned, to lift up drooping spirits, and strengthen weakened and feeble knees.
Comfort in Times of Challenge
The same spirit of comfort, peace, and solace, can come to those who mourn for the other reasons named–because of pain inflicted by those who made poor choices, through accidents, or a multitude of other possible causes. We can take great comfort in the following teachings from Alma in the Book of Mormon:
9 But behold, the Spirit hath said this much unto me, saying: Cry unto this people, saying—Repent ye, and prepare the way of the Lord, and walk in his paths, which are straight; for behold, the kingdom of heaven is at hand, and the Son of God cometh upon the face of the earth.
10 And behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers, she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God.
11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.
The words in verse twelve give particular comfort and strength to all those who put their trust in Christ. He knows our needs. There is nothing that we can go through that He hasn’t already suffered and thereby gained that empathy that only comes through direct experience. He, therefore, knows who to “succor” us in our weaknesses and lift us up.
The Prophet Joseph Smith learned this lesson in a very up close and personal way. In Doctrine and Covenants 121:1-6 we read that after suffering for months in a dungeon in Liberty Missouri, never having been convicted of any crime, Joseph cried out in the anguish of his soul:
1 O God, where art thou? And where is the pavilion that covereth thy hiding place?
2 How long shall thy hand be stayed, and thine eye, yea thy pure eye, behold from the eternal heavens the wrongs of thy people and of thy servants, and thine ear be penetrated with their cries?
3 Yea, O Lord, how long shall they suffer these wrongs and unlawful oppressions, before thine heart shall be softened toward them, and thy bowels be moved with compassion toward them?
4 O Lord God Almighty, maker of heaven, earth, and seas, and of all things that in them are, and who controllest and subjectest the devil, and the dark and benighted dominion of Sheol—stretch forth thy hand; let thine eye pierce; let thy pavilion be taken up; let thy hiding place no longer be covered; let thine ear be inclined; let thine heart be softened, and thy bowels moved with compassion toward us.
5 Let thine anger be kindled against our enemies; and, in the fury of thine heart, with thy sword avenge us of our wrongs.
6 Remember thy suffering saints, O our God; and thy servants will rejoice in thy name forever.
Joseph’s learning experience did not stop there. That same day, as recorded in Doctrine and Covenants section 122:5-9, the Lord expanded Joseph’s understanding further:
5 If thou art called to pass through tribulation; if thou art in perils among false brethren; if thou art in perils among robbers; if thou art in perils by land or by sea;
6 If thou art accused with all manner of false accusations; if thine enemies fall upon thee; if they tear thee from the society of thy father and mother and brethren and sisters; and if with a drawn sword thine enemies tear thee from the bosom of thy wife, and of thine offspring, and thine elder son, although but six years of age, shall cling to thy garments, and shall say, My father, my father, why can’t you stay with us? O, my father, what are the men going to do with you? and if then he shall be thrust from thee by the sword, and thou be dragged to prison, and thine enemies prowl around thee like wolves for the blood of the lamb;
7 And if thou shouldst be cast into the pit, or into the hands of murderers, and the sentence of death passed upon thee; if thou be cast into the deep; if the billowing surge conspire against thee; if fierce winds become thine enemy; if the heavens gather blackness, and all the elements combine to hedge up the way; and above all, if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good.
8 The Son of Man hath descended below them all. Art thou greater than he?
9 Therefore, hold on thy way, and the priesthood shall remain with thee; for their bounds are set, they cannot pass. Thy days are known, and thy years shall not be numbered less; therefore, fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever.
Some may look at the above verses and think, “why would a loving God allow his children to pass through any of the experiences described?” The answer is simple. He allows us to go through tough experiences precisely because He does love us.
He knows that only through the tough experiences we face can we appreciate that joy and happiness that will come to us as a reward for having endured our challenges well. Knowing that the Savior has suffered all things and knows how to succor us in our times of trouble, we can face troubled times with courage.
Comfort for Those Who Have Sinned
For those who mourn because of their own poor choices, who find themselves mired in sin and plagued by past mistakes, there is a way to receive comfort. The way to comfort is found through repentance. When we truly repent, we recognize that we have sinned against God, ourselves, and perhaps others, depending on the sin. We sorrow “after a godly manner” as described by Paul (See 2 Corinthians 7:9), meaning we feel sincerely sorry for offending God through our mistakes and desire to make amends.
We humbly confess our sins to God, and, if needed, to our spiritual leader. If we have sinned against someone else, where prudent and possible, we go to that person and confess our sins, seek for forgiveness, and strive to repair the damage as much as possible. It is important to remember too, that in seeking forgiveness, we must forgive ourselves. Then we move on, going forward, onward, and upward striving for the rest of our lives to do good and be good.
Some may say, “How can I go through that process? I don’t have the strength or the courage. How can I forgive myself, let alone ask others to forgive me?” If you try to do these things on your own, odds are you will fail. The promise to those who put their faith and trust in Christ is, however, that we “can do all things through Christ [who] strengtheneth [us], (See Philippians 4:13). We also read the following in the Book of Mormon in Ether 12:27:
27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.
What a glorious promise! If we will humble ourselves and exercise faith in Christ, through His grace, which is an enabling power, our weaknesses can be turned into strength! We can do all the things God expects us and wants us to do through the enabling power of Christ’s grace.
Jesus Christ lives. He is the source of all comfort. In our time of need, as we exercise faith in Him, He will not leave us comfortless, but rather, as promised, will come to us either through the comforting power of the Holy Ghost or in the form of human angels acting as His hands on the earth.
He knows each one of us personally and there is nothing we can go through that He hasn’t already been through Himself. He loves us and wants us to be happy in this life and eternally in the life to come. I’ve felt the comfort that only God and Christ can give through my own personal experiences and I bear my own personal witness that these things are true.
If you are mourning for any of the reasons discussed, I invite you to come unto Christ and be perfected in Him. Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you. Seek Him diligently, and you will find Him. As you do these things, I can make you a solemn promise that you will find the peace you seek.
Randall McNeely is a husband, father of five, and author. He is also a singer/songwriter and has written several patriotic songs, children’s songs, and multiple religious hymns. The best known is 'Oh Jesus, Savior of Mankind', which won a Special Recognition award in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints 2008 Music Submission contest. He and two of his daughters have also recorded and released the children’s song Everybody Speaks Smile! Randy has a firm testimony of Jesus Christ. He is the light and the life of the world. It is said and written of Him that "He went about doing good." In doing so, He weaved light into the hearts and souls of all with whom He came in contact, both in word and deed. Randy's desire is to have the same said of him. He wants to have the words and lyrics he writes uplift, inspire, and bless others. To read more articles by Randy visit his Pure Testimony website at www.puretestimony.org.