I’ve become an early riser. Each morning, I get my coffee and then try—really try—to exercise by getting out on a long walk with my dog, followed by spending time reading the Bible. It’s a habit I’ve cultivated through the years with a friend: trying to make each other accountable to wake up each morning to Jesus. I usually have a passage I’m studying, which right now is the Beatitudes in Matthew 5:1-12, and a devotional from New Morning Mercies by Paul David Tripp.
Both are currently challenging me in ways I never expected. For example, I recently encountered a familiar verse with fresh eyes. In Matthew 5, verse 4, Jesus says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” I never realized that this promise is not just about being comforted in loss or grief. It’s also about mourning our sin. When we mourn, we are essentially saying goodbye to something and feeling the pain that goes along with it. We’re experiencing regret or sadness about something that isn’t as it should be.
Yikes. Do I really have to do that with my sin? All my sin? I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not press hard into the depths of my shortcomings—especially if doing so is going to require serious change on my behalf.
So, I started making a list—one that got to a decent size. Among those that made it to the top were overspending, discontentment and lack of patience. Now I don’t believe God desires me or you to sit and wallow in how sinful we are—basking in guilt—but I do think He wants us to mourn these areas where we fall short. I also believe His Holy Spirit has been given to us not just to help identify these areas, but, through His power and forgiveness, to overcome them. Fortunately we have the promise of 1 John 1:9 which says, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
It didn’t take me long to make my list of sins—and those are just the ones that came to mind. But that verse in 1 John promises He can rid of us ALL unrighteousness. So where does one even begin? I personally meditate on Psalm 139: 23-24: “Search me, O God, and know my heart. Try me and know my thoughts. And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” I ask God to show me what I need to mourn, what needs to be left at His feet. I spill my mess with a few close friends and my spouse, and if I need help, which often is the case, they pray with me and for me. I believe that part of how God “comforts us as we mourn” is by giving us others to help carry our burdens.
In my devotional by Paul Tripp, he identifies why dealing with these sins is so important. He says, “We all tend to look for life horizontally when the reality is that we will only ever find life vertically.” This sentence really shook me. I spend so much of my time on the horizontal: trying to get things organized for my kids, performing at work, making sure my house projects are underway…you name it. But if I don’t deal with my sin, that vertical relationship will be strained, and I’ll continue fruitlessly focusing on the horizontal.
This topic is hard. No one wants to mourn; no one wants to be reminded of their sin. But notice what that Beatitude says: We will be blessed when we mourn. We have the promise of Christ’s companionship and help as we root out the stuff getting in the way of our relationship with Him.
We’re also not alone because we walk this together as sisters in Christ. I challenge you to meditate on Psalm 139: 23-24 and ask Him to change your heart. Be ready to see yourself differently (gasp!) but know that you will be so glad you did. Admitting our imperfections and being forgiven is such freedom. May God bless you as you mourn.