How can God comfort mourning leaders? Few of us would, especially if their sin tore our hearts apart, left our lives in ruins, and created suffering for us. Yet comfort is exactly what He offers those who mourn for sin.However, we must understand God’s kind of comfort because there are many false comforters among us today who do not take God’s holiness seriously, so they don’t take our sin seriously either.
God is absolutely serious about His holiness and our sin. That’s what the cross tells us. If sin demanded Christ’s death and if sin is an offense against God’s holiness, then the false prophets of a false comfort that condone sin offer us a false forgiveness that is no forgiveness at all. God’s comfort does not condone sin. God is not a There, there, Don’t be so upset kind of God. Instead, the first dimension to God’s comfort is to convict us of our sin so He can bring us into mourning for what we have done. We see this in His rebuke of Peter even before his denials when He gave him no room to deny what he was going to do (Mark 14:30). Even in conviction there was the start of comfort for Peter when, as the rooster crowed and Peter uttered his third denial, Jesus made eye contact with him (Luke 22:61-62). While He was suffering for Peter’s sin, He reached out to him. That look broke Peter’s blind pride.
God’s comfort leads us from conviction to confession, to an acknowledgement of our sin. Peter’s tears were his confession as he realized that he was the kind of man Jesus said he was: well intentioned but weak, self-righteously unrighteous. That confession, though, was incomplete. He had boasted of his superiority over the other disciples publicly; he had failed publicly; there had to be a public dimension to his confession, even as there may be for us. This is why Jesus asked him three times, “Do you love me?” (John 21:15-19). Peter had to face and acknowledge his sin three times before public cleansing could occur. Then came comfort, but Peter’s comfort came in an amazing way: it came as a commission to shepherd Christ’s sheep. Peter the denier was commissioned to be Peter the proclaimer and a shepherd of the sheep. That’s amazing comfort for a mourning sinner.
God neither condones nor condemns those who are poor in spirit for their sin. He comforts them, but His comfort is unlike any other because it is holy honesty, an honesty that convicts us of what we have done and brings us to His cleansing.
Then comes His comfort, the comfort of forgiveness and acceptance, but what’s most amazing is that His comfort comes as a commission for mourning sinners, a purpose that none of us could ever imagine even as Peter could never imagine what Jesus had for him.
This is how God comforts mourning leaders.