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Following Jesus

Broken But Blessed: Examining the Beatitudes

July 22, 2016 by

In her series “Broken But Blessed” Rebekah Domer has been blogging about the Beatitudes. In this post, she continues to examine Jesus’ words, “blessed are they who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Read her previous posts here.


Remorse

Blessed are they who mourn.

Anyone who has endured the heartbreak of grief may wonder why Jesus chose to bless those who mourn. Mourning is a harrowing experience. Blessings seem far removed when we find ourselves caught in its merciless grip. Ask anyone who has mourned, and they will describe the overwhelming weariness and pervading sorrow that linger on and on.

Any loss – the death of a beloved spouse, parent, or child – can derail us for months, if not years. Healing does not come quickly or easily. But when sorrow is compounded with guilt, mourning can be complicated and messy. I’m thinking of the recent news story of a local man who shot two of his children in a drunken rage, and the thousands of women who, yearly, end the lives of their unborn babies through abortion. For such people, the pain of loss is accompanied by shame and self-reproach.

Abby Johnson, former director of an abortion clinic, is now a leading advocate of the pro-life movement. In her book The Walls Are Talking, she recounts the story of Angie (not her real name), a woman in her mid-thirties who frequented the clinic. Casually entering the clinic for her ninth abortion, Angie’s buoyancy startled the staff. Most clients were sullen, if not frightened. You would have expected her to be slightly subdued, this being her ninth abortion. But Angie – cool and detached – joked flippantly with the staff as they prepped her for the procedure.

An hour later, while sipping ginger ale in “recovery,” Angie caught hold of Abby’s arm as she passed. Casually, Angie asked to see her aborted child – a request that seemed out of character if not inappropriate, given the circumstances. Such requests are rarely granted, so Abby sought to dissuade her client. But Angie insisted.

a pencil drawing of a tiny baby held in two large hands

Angie maintained her composure as her lifeless baby was brought to her bedside. But, on seeing the tiny form, she became frantic. Falling to her knees, she cried out in anguish. “That’s a baby. That was my baby.” As Angie began to weep, abortion clinic workers rushed to calm her. But she was inconsolable. Transfixed by grief, Angie pleaded to be allowed to take her baby with her. Embarrassed by this emotional display, the nurses summoned Angie’s boyfriend. For forty-five minutes, he wheedled and coaxed until, at length, Angie got up off the floor and left the clinic.

My heart bled for Angie when I read her story. From the vantage point of my loving community, I cannot fathom the desperation that would drive a woman to abort her unborn child. I believe in the sacredness of all life, beginning at conception. But I’ve never been in Angie’s shoes. What dire circumstances prompted her repeated visits to the abortion clinic? God only knows. My heart breaks for the millions in our world who, in the words of Henry Thoreau, “lead lives of quiet desperation.” What drives people to abortion, suicide, murder, and rape?

My mother loved a piece of music (Haydn’s Creation) that imaginatively portrays the creation of the world. At the loving hand of God, light breaks forth. Plants carpet the earth and animals spring to life. God’s beauty is seen in all – from the mighty roaring of the lion to the “sinuous trace” of the worm.

The majesty of God is still visible in our world in the billowing thunderheads that traverse the skies on breezy summer days and the vermilion flash of a scarlet tanager as it flits into the undergrowth.

But our earth is tarnished – weighed down by fear and the burden of sin. No longer do we reflect God’s glorious image. Our human race has by and large lost touch with God.

For this, Jesus mourned. He bemoaned the hardness of heart he encountered among people. Before his death, he wept over Jerusalem, lamenting the stubborn refusal of his children to be gathered (Luke 13:34). And he still mourns today.

Jesus blessed those who mourn.

We all know the pain of loss, of disappointment, of separation. But how many of us weep with Christ for our broken world? Godly mourning, I believe, must be accompanied by contrition. Repentance demands that we weep for our sins. Could this, perhaps, be what Jesus meant when he blessed those who mourn? In a favorite passage of mine, Jesus observes that the angels in heaven rejoice when one sinner repents (Luke 15:10).

Psalm 51, traditionally referred to as the Miserere, demonstrates how heartfelt mourning can lead to blessedness. Known as one of the “penitential psalms,” its words convey the cry of an anguished soul, yearning for cleansing and purification: “Have mercy on me, O God, . . . according to your abundant mercy blot out my transgressions. . . . Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” (Ps. 51:1, 10).

King David goes on to reveal the path to blessedness when he writes, “ The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise” (Ps. 51:17).

Humbled by our sinfulness, we must seek purification and renewal. Only then can we bring our groaning world to God – to be blessed.


Jesus blessed those who mourn, but more than that, he offered them comfort. Check back in two weeks for my post on that part of his powerful promise. See my previous posts here.

Artwork by the author.

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Rebekah Domer

Rebekah Domer

Since Rebekah’s upbringing at the Woodcrest Bruderhof in New York, life has taken her on many diverse assignments, from the...

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  • I have the right to choose. The right to be what I want. The right to do whatever I want. It’s my body. These statements are all familiar to me as I have crossed paths with young girls and women bearing this mindset; in my personal life and in past job positions. I remember very clearly one particular client—a young girl barely sixteen, nearly three months pregnant and not wanting this child. My job was to help her connect with the baby growing inside her, among other things. She could not embrace or comprehend the concept of a human life inside her womb. She refused to talk to the baby, sing, read or even massage her belly or to practice any other bonding methods. To make this story short, it took nearly three months for this young mommy to embrace reality. She called me one day at my office, ecstatic about feeling "baby" moving inside her. IT HIT HER THEN! “It’s a real baby inside! It’s a real life!” she exclaimed repeatedly over the phone and begged me to come right away. Of course, I went to her in my own joy, knowing that God had done it. It was at that time, she began to implement all that had been taught to her. I had never seen her so happy. Why did I tell this story? Because there are some who can relate quite easily to what we say out of our mouths. They make the connections fairly quickly or begin to make changes. But then, there are others who need to experience something more. Besides hearing our words of warning or suggestions or encouragement, one or more of the other senses must be involved; to feel/touch, to see, to taste or to smell. When that happens, a connection happens, too. When this sixteen-year-old mommy felt the baby kicking and moving around inside her, a connection was made and change happened. The same way, in your story Rebekah, when Angie’s eyes beheld the horror of her reality, she made the connection and change happen—remorse set in. Oh, how beautiful is the conviction of the soul to open the eyes of our hearts to what we cannot readily see. Yes, we absolutely have the right to choose. But before we do, let’s get all the facts. Ask yourself, “What are we choosing to do? Is what I’m choosing to do right in the eyes of God? Am I hurting anyone in the process?” Where there is life, there should always be grace and love. Is the act of abortion one of grace and love? You answer—after you’ve heard, seen, felt, smell, and tasted. Life is precious; those we see and those we don’t. May God have mercy on us when we treat precious life any other way. I commended this sixteen-year-old for choosing to keep her baby and I gave glory to God for helping her to make that choice. Thank you, Rebekah, for quoting part of Psalm 51…my favorite Psalm of repentance. Many blessings.

    Yvonne
  • I read your deep writing on Blessed be those who mourn. I read it shortly after you posted it...it very well could have been evening time and it left me breathlessly and emotionally stirred....as are all your writings. Me, being me...requiring time to "marinate" my thoughts and words, defer my kneejerk comments, while I dwell upon your composition itself. This I suppose is not acceptable in our fast-paced world...but I like many go into a contemplative mode when deeply stirred by message, thought or words. I cannot bring myself to calling your words a blog...nothing you've ever written could be categorized as such. While I know we live in these "techie" times...and the colloquial terms are catchy and cool...you have surpassed the definition of a blog. I say that with great respect and acknowledgement of the wisdom, knowledge and faith you have had bestowed upon you through your own Life's story, which have made you a spectacular author of Life. I love your topic, The Beatitudes! Your reflections thus far are rich in depth as you retell the stories of others amid your own keen insights. This is your calling....there is much to be written and accounted for in the life of any person we call brother or sister. We need not travel far at all.. oft times, The Good Lord brings them right to our front or back door. Your account of the young women, building blocks of unborn children in an unconscious manner speaks of the recklessness of an impoverished spirit...until the day God chose to speak to her heart in the form of her holy innocent dead child. What a moment that became! The miracle in the Clinic....what a testament of God's Love and forgiveness to embrace the young woman and bring her into His Mercy Zone. I've heard it called The Gift of Tears...the awakening of remorse for things that we cannot change or go back and do differently. We have all experienced such times. Thank you Rebekah for your writings, your art work...you inspire our hearts and thoughts. God bless you this day.

    Catherine Miller
  • How very sad that this young woman did not know or understand that it was a baby that she was aborting — her baby — did no one explain this to her, or show her what her baby looked like. I am pained that she had no understanding of what she was doing until she saw her wasted child. What a dreadful way to learn about life, what a dreadful journey she has travelled through life. I pray that the Lord will bless this young mother with peace and mercy.

    Judith Meredith
  • Dearest Rebekah, I have read your last blog and it is even better, if that was possible. The first lines tells us all and it must encourage people to go on reading and even repeat the reading of your recent blog. You make it so real that it speaks very deeply to people. Even the name of it - broken-but-blessed- touches them and fills them with hope. You can write so personally that each one is touched at a deep level and can only re-read all you have written. Keep up the good work and you will continue the work of God and draw many people very near to God. In communion and God bless you all. Veronica.

    Veronica
  • This has touched a place deep in my soul – I am near tears as I write this. You know my story Rebekah. I was encouraged to “just get an abortion”. I did not have a relationship with Christ, I really didn’t even know much about God, yet I could not wrap my head around the idea that anyone would kill their child because he/she was an inconvenience, an embarrassment, a hardship… you fill in the blank. We are all created in the image of God, so I have to conclude that my shock at the idea of an abortion was my soul clinging to the God who created it. I can’t imagine a place so dark that we would be driven to commit such acts of evil but, without God, that’s where we go. Yet, my heart goes out to those “walking in deep darkness”. They don’t know the voice of the Shepherd, so they fall victim to the voice of the world. As our distance from God gets greater, our propensity for evil grows as well. Ever since the fall from grace we have been drifting further and further away. “We all know the pain of loss, of disappointment, of separation” and no one feels this more than God. It breaks my heart to think that we could be so callous toward our wonderful, powerful, merciful Creator – OUR CREATOR…He made all that was, all that is and all that ever will be, He is all that we will ever need and we thumb our noses at Him. We think we don’t need Him – well, look at that mess we have made. As I awake each morning, my first thoughts go to how merciful our awesome God is that He loves us even in our sin – enough to send His only Son to die in our place. I place my hope in His promise – He will have victory, and one day, “every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is LORD”. Until that day, it is our job to be a voice crying in the wilderness. We need to mourn for the lost. We need to love the lost enough to turn them away from their eternity in hell and toward the loving arms of God.

    Bethany
  • Reading the comments about abortion, I was in contact with a child who had Rubella when I was about ten weeks pregnant. I became ill and visited my GP who sent me to my local hospital for tests.Two tests came back positive and I was advised to have an abortion. It was a bad time in my life, I wouldn't have it , I had two children already and was told the child could be born blind and deaf. I remember walking in the rain crying out to god and decided what ever I would go through with the birth. I then had a third blood test which revealed that the results were high, that I could of had rubella as a child but the Dr. couldn't give me a positive result. All through the pregnancy I worried and when my child was born I kept waiting to see if he could see. I went into post natal depression that lasted for two years. My baby was fine but it is something I will never forget. I worked in a G.P. surgery for many years and will never forget the day a child of twelve came in with her Mum, she was pregnant.At that time what would anyone do if their twelve year old daughter was pregnant either by mistake or rape. I spent three months in a special baby unit with my triplet grandchilden as they only weighed 1lb 12ozs , I saw babies born at 23 weeks fully formed. These are babies that are aborted. Working in a GP unit many women came in time after time wanting abortions , using it as contraception. Dr's didn't like this but what could they do. I think of all the souls of these aborted babies and pray they are loved and cared for by our Lord.

    Mrs Ann Richards
  • Dear Rebekah, Your blog this week reminded me of the book, "Unplanned" about Abby Johnson, a former director of a Planned Parenthood clinic in Texas. I wonder how many women would proceed with an abortion if only they read the first few pages of the book. Thank you for sharing. ~ Rosalie

    Rosalie V Gambino
  • Thanks so much. That is a heartbreaking story. The way Angie was heartbroken when she recognized what she had done reminds me of when Mary Magdalene poured ointment on Jesus’ feet and wept bitterly. It shows that these are the people Jesus came for and He will find a way of showing them the truth. I think it’s a really good portrayal. Thanks.

    Esther
  • Rebekah, what a perfect way to start my day with reading your blog! I thank you from my heart. This brought tears to my eyes, and your artwork is trully a gift from God. How incredibly talented you are in so many aspects. It is a pleasure and a gift to be considered your friend. You answered your question perfectly. What causes people to commit horrendous crimes of murder, abortion, and the like? SIN. That sums it up in a nutshell. I totally agree with all that you have written. You have put into words so beautifully the way the world is today. May I pray along with you and your community for our world today and all the lost people that they come to know the saving grace of Our Lord and Saviour. It is a privilege to know you and your community. A true blessing.

    Emily Russo
  • Rebekah, what a perfect way to start my day with reading your blog! I thank you from my heart. This brought tears to my eyes, and your artwork is trully a gift from God. How incredibly talented you are in so many aspects. It is a pleasure and a gift to be considered your friend. You answered your question perfectly. What causes people to commit horrendous crimes of murder, abortion, and the like? SIN. That sums it up in a nutshell. I totally agree with all that you have written. You have put into words so beautifully the way the world is today. May I pray along with you and your community for our world today and all the lost people that they come to know the saving grace of Our Lord and Saviour. It is a privilege to know you and your community. A true blessing.

    Emily Russo