Good Morning Pioneer Baptist!
“Is it logical for a Christian to grieve?”
“My Mother died.” No, I’m not talking in the first person on that, for me that took place in 2004, but those are the very words I heard from my good friend Pastor Jerry Cook yesterday morning.
Pastor Jerry Cook is a great Christian, a great preacher, a great Bible student, a great friend, and a great man, but he sounded hurt at about 6:15 a.m. yesterday morning. At that time, he had known of his mother’s passing for about thirty minutes. Her death was somewhat of a shock, not being one of those circumstances when a loved one has lingered with a long and painful illness giving us license to say, “It was time.” And even then, it’s never easy to lose a loved one. Never.
But for true Christians, doesn't it make us hypocrites when we grieve? Shouldn’t we be throwing a party and calling all our friends with the celebratory news that our mother has died? I admit that the question itself sounds rather stupid, pitting common sense against theological faith and trust. We do grieve, and that’s a given, but what does such grieving say about our faith?
In the first place, while conceding that we grieve, it needs to be said that we don’t grieve like those who feel they have lost their loved one forever. Our precious word of God says that we, “… sorrow not, even as others which have no hope." (1 Thessalonians 4:13 KJV.) And then God follows up that thought in the next verse with “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.” Jesus is our Blessed Hope, He rose from the dead and promised the same for us, and the words of verse fourteen “bring with Him” sound mighty fine to our ears and hearts. Paul even said he had a “desire” to depart and be with Christ, which is far better (Philip 1:23) and Paul knew what he was talking about, having already been caught up to the third heaven. (2Co 12:2.) So what about the grieving?
Well, it certainly is good for “us” to go, but it’s still very sad and lonely for us when someone we love goes and leaves us here. Paul said that himself in relation to his friend Epaphroditus, who was Paul’s Christian brother, his companion in labour, and his fellowsoldier. You see, Epaphroditus had been deathly ill, but had recovered, leading Paul to say “but God had mercy on him; and not on him only, but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow.” (Philip 2:25-27). Here is Paul saying that it was “merciful” to Paul (as well as his friend) that Epaphroditus didn’t die and go to Heaven, and that it would have been extremely sorrowful for Paul had he departed. And this is only thirty-four verses after Paul had expressed his desire to move on to Heaven himself.
Let’s just tell it like it is: while we are traversing this world, a world that has been wasted by man’s sin and what we rightly term “human nature,” we are wonderfully blessed with precious human relationships. Categorized as spouses, children, mothers, fathers, relatives, and friends, they become, after Christ, the very essence of our lives! They make us smile, give us reason to carry on, and bring out the best of our love. Deprived of their physical presence, even for this brief wisp of a life, we are left heartbroken. It’s not about them, it’s about us. We weep for our own loss despite our perfect knowledge of their ultimate gain. We’ve lost something of ourselves, temporarily, in the wonderful process of God’s glorification of those we cherish.
Smarter men than I have preached on Jesus’ weeping at the grave of Lazarus, pontificating on the Scriptural reasons for His tears. This much I know; He was standing by a grave!
In love, my heart goes out to Pastor Jerry Cook in his time of grief. It’s real, even for the strongest of believers, which Jerry is.
Love and Prayers to all,