St John now moves on to a topic that sounds a bit odd in English, and a concept that sounds strange in any language – mourning that brings us joy. Mourning for our sins is very much related to our repentance. When turn from sin and choose daily to follow Christ, then not only do our old ways of sin have no attraction for us, but we begin to weep and mourn for our past sins. We do not mourn out of fear that God will not forgive us, rather we mourn out of sorrow for our past sins, mourning for the way we have hurt our Saviour and separated ourself from our God. When we have grieved the One we love, even when reconciled we still feel sorrow for our transgression – we see this worked out among people in the world, and it also stands true, and perhaps even more so, in our relationship with God. But the end goal of our mourning is not continual mourning – St John writes:

“My friends, God does not ask or desire that man should mourn from sorrow of heart, but rather that, out of love for Him, he should rejoice with spiritual laughter. Remove the sin, and the tear of sorrow is superfluous for your eyes. What is the use of a bandage when there is no wound? Before his transgression, Adam had no tears, just as there will be none after the resurrection, when sin will be abolished; for pain, sorrow and sighing will then have fled away” (7:45).

Our mourning will drive away sin and temptation, until the day when we are able to lay aside all mourning, and rejoice in the Lord with spiritual laughter. Let us mourn now for our sins, that we may rejoice with the Saints in God’s good time!

Matthew Jackson