This is the second part of a three part series on encouraging words from Scripture for mourners. The words were encouraging and inspiring at the time they were penned and are still the source of encouragement and inspiration for mourners today. The following scriptures tell us (1) how God truly grieves with us in our losses and (2) how any people no matter their beliefs are not exempt from the experience of grief. I suggest you read each suggested text and dig deeper into the meaning and implication of the message for you as you walk your grief journey.
- JESUS WORKS A MIRACLE IN THE GRAVEYARD
This is the story of the raising of Lazarus from the dead and of how Jesus Christ works miracles even in the graveyard where all hope appears to be gone. Jesus has been called to come to the aid of his friend Lazarus who has fallen ill. When he arrives he is confronted by Lazarus’ grieving sisters Mary and Martha along with mourning family, friends and community members.
Twice in this passage we are told that Jesus is moved deeply. Despite the fact that Jesus is about to raise Lazarus from the dead to show God’s power, He is emotionally devastated by the loss of His friend Lazarus and the grief being displayed by Mary, Martha and the others. In fact He is moved so deeply that He cries openly.
This scripture tells us that:
- God is a God who cries with those that mourn. Jesus was the fullness of His Father in human form on earth. Jesus, His words and His actions represent God. Jesus the Son of God wept at the death of Lazarus and the grief of His dear friends. God cries with us as mourners following the deaths of our loved ones.
- God and His Son Jesus can give us hope and encouragement in our sorrow. When Jesus saw Mary and Martha without hope in their grief, He gave them a reason to hope by saying, “I am the Resurrection and the Life…” Jesus gives us mourners that same hope today.
- GOOD PEOPLE SUFFER
This story of one man’s suffering comes from the Hebrew poem authored by Asaph, the temple choir director. This message had a profound effect upon my wavering faith and my grief struggle.
Asaph suffers an unknown malady or crisis in his life that has become oppressive to him. This life crisis is causing Asaph to be consumed by his suffering day and night. His real struggle comes when he compares his life as a believer and servant of God to those of people whose words and actions mock God.
Asaph says that he has envied the wicked. He looked at them and saw that they prospered in the world and had everything that they wanted. Then he looked upon himself as one who served and trusted the Lord, only to suffer afflictions, trials and plagues. This was frustrating for Asaph. How could God make such a mistake? What good was it for Asaph to strive for purity when he received no benefit or reward from the God whom he served?
Then Asaph had an epiphany. Worshipping in the temple, listening to God’s Word and being surrounded by God’s people, Asaph’s perspective of his situation changed. Only when his attitude and perspective changed, could Asaph realize that:
- A merciful, caring God was always with him whether Asaph could or could not feel God’s presence and comfort.
- Good and bad things happen in this life to righteous and wicked people. The suffering caused in a person’s life can blind him or her to the blessings of the moment from God. Humans can always look to others and think that those others have life much better than they do.
- God will keep His promise to reward the good. Those who live in God’s service will be rewarded.
- God will keep His promise to reward the wicked. The evil and immoral of this world will eventually receive their punishment.
- God is all that Asaph or any believer needs in this world or in Heaven.
Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. (Psalm 73:25-26 NIV)
Written by Larry M. Barber, LPC-S, CT author of the grief survival guide “Love Never Dies: Embracing Grief with Hope and Promise” available online at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/Love-Never-LPC-S-Larry-Barber/dp/1613796005 ), Barnes & Noble (http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/love-never-dies-lpc-s-ct-larry-m-barber-ct-larry-m/1104364890?ean=9781613796016).
The grief survival guide is also available in Spanish as “El Amor Nunca Muere: Aceptando el Dolor con Esperanza y Promesa”
Both English and Spanish versions are available for Kindle and Nook. Larry is the director of GriefWorks, a free grief support program for children and their families in Dallas TX http://grief-works.org.