This sermon is part of the sermon series "Beatitudes". See series.
"No one ever told me that grief felt so much like fear." That is how C. S. Lewis begins his book A Grief Observed, a compelling account of his descent into grief after the death of his wife, Joy. Lewis's perspective in this book provides an interesting counterpoint when compared to an earlier book of his on a similar subject: The Problem of Pain. In The Problem of Pain Lewis writes, "God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain," but in A Grief Observed, Lewis says that one of the most disquieting dimensions of grief is God's silence. "When you are happy, so happy that you have no sense of needing him, so happy that you are tempted to feel his claims upon you as an interruption if you remember yourself and turn to him with gratitude and praise, you will be—or so it feels—welcomed with open arms," Lewis writes. "But go to him when your need is desperate, when all other help is vain, and what do you find? A door slammed in your face and a sound of bolting and double bolting on the inside. After that, silence."
"What can this mean?" Lewis asks. "Why is he so present a commander in our time of prosperity and so very absent a help in time of trouble?" The difference between these two statements is a matter of distance. The Problem of Pain describes Lewis's perspective as an observer of pain. In a sense, it is a view from the outside. In A Grief Observed, he writes from an insider's point of view. Both of these perspectives are valid. But what are we to make of what Jesus says about grief in Matthew 5:4?
In the second beatitude, Jesus says, "Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted." Like the first beatitude, Jesus seems to have it backward here. Who ...
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