If there is a single verse that shows the inadequacies of the English language when it comes to describing makarios, it is this one. “Blessed” isn’t quite perfect, but there are translations that use “happy” or “fortunate” to describe those who mourn.
Those were the last words I would have used to describe what it was like when I was moving through the fog of losing my mother nearly eight years ago. I am not a violent person, but I’m certain anyone who tried to use those words to comfort me would have seen more of my temper than maybe anyone ever has.
But, then I remember. I received many text messages in those few days from the teens in the youth group I led telling me they were praying for me. There was an inexplicable clarity in the decisions I had to make. Friends brought over part of their Christmas dinner, and neighbors gave us food to share with those who dropped by. We even managed to have a small Christmas Eve dinner. It was a little different than the big celebration Mom always had, but it was a time for us all to be together.
Those were simply the tangible acts of comfort. My Grandmother best summarized the intangible comfort we all felt. I can’t remember when she said it. I can’t remember why she said it. All I remember is that she said, “I don’t know how people get through this without Jesus.”
That’s what Jesus meant when he said those who mourn are blessed because they will be comforted. Trusting in him brings a peace in the midst of a storm that can simply not be explained.
This is where makarios becomes a stronger description than any word we have in English. One sense of the meaning speaks to finding fulfillment in the Lord despite outward circumstances.
We are makarios when we mourn over the loss of a loved one, or when we mourn over the darkness and sin of the world. Or, when we are broken or suffering or in pain. Jesus is there, and we are filled.