One Wedding and Six Funerals

What it can mean to participate in the life of God.

January 8 was a day filled with vivid images for me: the winter sun shining on fresh fallen snow in my quaint little town; my eldest daughter stunningly beautiful in her wedding dress; the look on her fiancé's face as my wife and I walked her down the aisle; the happy reunion with friends at the reception; the laughter and dancing—well, I gush. It was one of the happiest days of my life.

I didn't read the news that day, but the next morning I found out about the other event of January 8, the shooting that left bloody bodies littered on the pavement in Tucson—and a fiancé, parents of a nine-year-old girl, and an assortment of spouses and other loved ones in a state of shock and grief.

How could a day that was so bright for some of us be so dark for others? It's a contrast that makes itself known every day of the year, every year of the decade, in every decade and every century. This reality is no respecter or persons, nor events. It will invade the homes of the wealthy and the poor, and put a damper on a father's formerly unalloyed joy. It's enough to make one mourn.

Jesus said that those who mourn are blessed. It's a nice sentiment, but not many of us believe it. We live in a land of possibility thinking, of people seeking their best life now. That doesn't include mourning. We face tragedy by telling one another to put it behind us, to make a fresh start. To mourn is to meditate on the past, and we don't admire people who dwell on the past. No, this is the first day of the rest of our lives! Let's take the tiger by the tail! The future beckons us!

We traffic in the inspirational because we really do want to be blessed, and this seems the shortest route there. But it's interesting that in the Beatitudes—Jesus' ...

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In "SoulWork," Mark Galli brings news, Christian theology, and spiritual direction together to explore what it means to be formed spiritually in the image of Jesus Christ.
Mark Galli
Mark Galli is editor in chief of Christianity Today and author, most recently, of Karl Barth: An Introductory Biography for Evangelicals.
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