Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted. Matthew 5:4
So yesterday afternoon I was ripping through some books from next year’s curriculum in the waiting room, waiting for Wali to get out of surgery. And one of the books I had been planning to dump was Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, a book that the eleven-year-old me had remembered as being pretty dopey.
Probably because I didn’t get it.
“We need not to be let alone. We need to be really bothered once in a while. How long is it since you were really bothered? About something important, about something real?”
Somehow Fahrenheit 451 rang more frightenly accurate than all of the other dystopia novels on our to-read lists such as the 1984s and Brave New Worlds sorts. Because the evil is quiet and unarticulated and from within. Because the people were too comfortable and distracted to ever be bothered. About something important and real.
And of course Fahrenheit 451 feeds my deep set resentment of television inherited from my parents and confirmed once again as mom and I flipped through more than a hundred cable stations in our last-night-in-Montana hotel last week and found nothing deemed worthy of even being background noise. So we read. Which keeps both Ray Bradbury and myself employed, so there could be a bit of self-preservation in our copped ‘tude.
People want to be happy, isn't that right? Haven't you heard it all your life? I want to be happy, people say. Well, aren't they? Don't we keep them moving, don't we give them fun? That's all we live for, isn't it? For pleasure, for titillation? And you must admit our culture provides plenty of these. All to the heart-grinding keyboard soundtrack rolling in the background. And our preoccupations are very full of real people cooking and buying and traveling and styling. Except they aren’t so real, really. We can’t love them. Not in the Jesus way. The Jesus way is not distant and not sliced and diced and not by-the-way-can-you-click-on-my-link love. The Jesus love costs; the Jesus love hurts.
And Jesus declares that the Spirit of the LORD is upon Him, and that He is anointed to comfort those who mourn, to pour the oil of gladness over their head and into their hurts and bring true healing.
For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret, whereas worldly grief produces death.
The repentance in Fahrenheit 451, turning and seeing life in a new light, led to a salvation of sorts, in that if you drown, at least die knowing you were heading for shore, while worldly grief was a dark, unarticulated pain that did indeed produce death, death by overdose of sleeping pills, death by driving just a little too fast, death by disappearance.
And what a blessed happiness it is indeed, to mourn, to feel the pain of a broken world including me, if Jesus is the One who gathers me up under His wings and comforts me.
It’s the real thing.