Lesson 4: Blessed Are Those Who Mourn
Blessed Are Those Who Mourn…
Matthew 5.4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
We know from modern psychology that there are different stages in our grieving process. We also have seen how any change—especially an abrupt one like involuntary employment termination or a radical modification to our work processes or teams—will induce emotional stages that mimic mourning a loved one’s death. Similarly, a rejection like not being hired or promoted after several rounds of interviews can be devastating emotionally. Because of the context, it seems Jesus is talking about mourning the impact of troubles, evil deeds, injustices, unfairness and such, whether we’re personally afflicted by them or someone we care about is affected by them.
Studies have shown that expressing empathy for those adversely impacted by our own actions lessens others’ pain. Toro found lawsuits were reduced after they contacted an injured person’s family. Doctors have found good “bedside” manner reduced the perception of malpractice. Tylenol’s business rebounded after a contamination scare when they expressed concern for those that were poisoned and took action to prevent others from being poisoned. On the other hand, an owner of a coal mine who blamed the workers for a mine explosion—on the day it exploded—did not recover his or his company’s reputation, and continues to this day to be viewed as cold-hearted.
We might mourn a relationship or loss of reputation. I’ve seen individuals and whole teams collapse when their proposals were rejected. They took the rejection personally. They blamed management for not being supportive and being hypocritical. “They say they will provide what we need, but when we ask, they say, ‘No!’” Or “They don’t like our idea. They don’t like us.” Rejection does not mean a lack of support. It might mean a lack of resources to implement a change or initiate a new project. It might mean these ideas are not the most critical for the health or growth of the company. It might mean a lot of things.
Conversely, for executives, a lack of input from the lower tiers could also mean a lot of things. It could mean executives aren’t approachable.6 It could mean the rank and file are exhausted from bringing forth ideas and not having anything change, happen or a dialogue started. So the separation between the organizational tiers widens and everyone is grieved over the loss of opportunity.
…for they shall be comforted.
A former boss once told me he stopped believing in God when God refused to answer his prayers for his son’s health in the way he wanted and when no religious leader could provide an answer as to why his son died. Not everyone who loses employment from reorganizations, workforce reductions and business closures finds employment again. You may be in this situation now. As of this writing, we’re 20 months into the COVID-19 pandemic with millions of people out of work and disruptions to the flow of goods. Healthcare worker burnout is increasing significantly. Hospitality/travel/customer service personnel resignations are skyrocketing from a variety of issues, etc. Many of these issues are not at the control or influence of the workers or management.
You may even be grieving as you worry about your slipping performance because someone changed the process and procedure of your job. You haven’t quite got the handle on the new way of doing things. You might be mourning the loss of a trusted coworker on your team. You might have grief because your team’s internal/ external customer service levels have been reduced, compounded by the fear of losing your job if you can’t find a solution to the issues hindering the team’s efforts.
Where might God be for the people listening to Christ’s sermon (and you)? Is He deaf? Where is the promised comfort?
The Kingdom of Heaven is now and so is the comfort to those who mourn. In a post-resurrection world, we have the Holy Spirit, the Great Comforter. Also, I think we are promised comfort from others who have suffered similarly. The Kingdom is community and thus, comfort might be found in trade associations, peer councils, support groups, employee forums, church small groups and so on. Ways to cope, new skills, adaptations and adjustments might be found when sharing with others who have walked this path before.
Most importantly, there’s Christ who has also walked this path before.
1. When have you grieved or been really bothered by a change at work or in employment? What helped you recover, assuming you have?
2. What lessons can you share having learned from God and others about adapting to radical changes in your life and work life?
3. What does comfort look and feel like?
4. What will you do differently this week?
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Blessed Are the gentle…