Columns share an author’s personal perspective.
Most of us experience grief as children with the death of a pet that shared our childhood. Many dogs, cats and birds were buried under carefully turned floors dampened with tears from childhood.
Ultimately, grief comes more strongly with the death of a parent, brother, sister, or friend. If we live long enough, it will come to each of us when we part with those we love most.
David, who wrote the Psalms, was famous for his grief over the death of his son Absalom. Although Absalom led a rebellion against him to remove him from the throne of Israel, he was heartbroken when David heard that Absalom was dead. He cried and cried: “O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! If I had died instead of you, oh Absalom, my son, my son! “(2 Samuel 18:33). On another occasion, when David was mourning the death of another child, he said: “I will go to him, but he will not return to me.” – 2 Sam. 12:23.
Faith in Heaven and the resurrection does not remove the grief, it takes the sting away. This is why the apostle Paul writes: “But when this perishable has attracted the incorruptible, and this mortal has attracted immortality, then comes the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? “(1 Corinthians 15:54).
My father died when I was 29 years old. My mother when I was 64 years old. I preached the funeral of my grandfather and numerous aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and friends. Last week my family buried my mother’s sister in Texas. Next week our daughter and grandchildren will bury our son-in-law’s mother in Georgia. We all must face the loss of loved ones.
A few years ago I visited a cemetery in old Boston where the headstones date back to some of the Colonies’ earliest inhabitants. I discovered an interesting pattern. These grave makers, built before 1730, carried skulls. They were the image of death and despair. The markings erected after 1740 bore images of angels and cherubim and were often inscribed with verses about the sky. The only event that could have made such a difference in the Boston markers is the Great Awakening, which hit the colonies in the 1730s and 1740s. Benjamin Franklin wrote of Awakening that there was soon a “wonderful … change in the manners of our residents. … So that you can’t walk through town in one evening without hearing psalms sung in different families on every street. “
Grief as a believer in Jesus Christ is deep and real, but it is not grief without hope. Even Jesus mourned when he stood in front of the grave of his friend Lazarus. Although he knew he would call Lazarus from the grave and raise him from the dead, the Bible says, “Jesus wept.” When Jesus wept, he showed us that God not only knows our grief, He feels it too. We do not mourn alone, in isolation, or without hope.
Bill Tinsley reflects on current events and life experiences from a belief perspective. His books are available at www.tinsleycenter.com. Email to [email protected]