This has been a hard week emotionally.
A classmate of my 15-year-old grandson took his own life on Wednesday. There are almost no words to express the tragedy of a person that age thinking that life is not worth living. There is nothing that a 15-year-old could do, say, think, or feel that a parent couldn’t forgive. Is there? Dear God, I hope not. I know for a fact there is nothing that a 15-year-old could do, say, think, or feel that God couldn’t forgive.
Today I attended the funeral of a 25-year-old woman. Her mother and grandmother are both friends of mine. She leaves behind a husband and a 5-month-old son. A dear friend who is an ordained minister officiated at this young woman’s wedding earlier this year. Today she conducted the funeral service. She asked me if I would read some scriptures at the service.
I don’t mind getting up in front of people. I’ve made many a business presentation and taught lots of training courses. And, I am familiar with the Bible verses that have held me up and comforted me since my daughter moved to Heaven.
But, to stand up and look at the stricken faces of my grieving friends and try to offer words of comfort was a task I wasn’t sure I was up for.
I had tears rolling down my cheeks when I hugged my friends. My heart broke all over again when I looked at the beautiful face of that boisterous young woman now oh so still in that casket.
I prayed silently, as I had prayed this morning when I was composing my thoughts: let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O God, my strength and my redeemer.
This is what I said:
Death is awful. There’s no softening of its blow.
Even Jesus knew death was awful. When his friend Lazarus died, Jesus wept along with Mary and Martha and the other mourners even though he knew that at his command Lazarus was going to walk out of that burial cave alive.
God did not intend that we would die. He did not intend that we should know grief. But, because we do, the Bible has a lot to say about grieving. Here are just a few of the passages that address grievers:
In the very familiar 23rd Psalm David says: Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you God are with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
Psalm 34:18 says: The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
In the part of the Sermon on the Mount referred to as the Beatitudes, Jesus says: Blesséd are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
In John chapter 16, verse 22 Jesus says to his disciples: You have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you.
In Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians he reminds them of Jesus’s words by saying that although we grieve for those who have died, we as believers grieve with hope. He says: For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.
And finally, in Revelation 21:4 John says that when Christ comes again: He will wipe every tear from our eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain.
How wonderful that will be. In the meantime, I pray you feel God’s comfort in your grief.
What more can I say? It’s been a hard week.