|Douglas Frank Photo|
Griefshareis a ministry for those who have experienced the recent death of a loved one. Its logo is “Mourning to Joy.” In leading the group I have had participants hear this and angrily storm out of the room yelling, “How can that possibly be? You heartless people!” Well, that has never felt good of course as the grievant is in pain and this thought is shocking, but biblically and in actuality true based on years of experience with this ministry. The Psalmist says in Psalm 30:5, “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” This is hard teaching, yet even in this psalm David says, “I will extol you for you have lifted me up, and have not let my foes rejoice over me. O Lord, my God, I cried out to You, and you healed me. O Lord, You brought my soul up from the grave. You have kept me alive, that I should not go down to the pit. Sing praise all you saints of His, and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name. For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life”(vv.1-5a).
God is in the business of healing and bringing life in what seems like impossible darkness. “God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all” (1 John 1:5). Later in Psalm 30 David proclaims, “You have turned my mourning into dancing; You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness…O Lord I will give you thanks forever”(Psalm 30:11,12). Solomon, son of David, not his father would build the temple, making David’s gladness harder to understand. He trusted completely in God and, “After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: “‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do’” (Acts 13:22). Later King David would weep and mourn for his son Absalom even though he had tried to overthrow his own father.
Mourning is not an easy thing. It is a process with stages that last until they are over, which takes a long time. We are always mourning some loss, and so we are continually dealing with this state. It is God who works in us though to help in times of need. In fact Solomon wrote, “It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of everyone; the living should take this to heart” Why is this so, because God is in it with you. He is the only one who will not forsake of leave you in times of distress. He is the “Great Encourager” telling us as He did Joshua when Moses died, “I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and of good courage, for to this people you shall divide as an inheritance the land which I swore to their fathers to give the. Only be strong and very courageous, that you may observe to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you…Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be dismayed for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:5b-7, 9 NKJV). It is in the house of mourning that God draws near. Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).
A very strong prophetic section of Scripture in Isaiah 61 says of the purpose of the coming Jesus is, “To comfort all who mourn and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.” This is why we can say that the house of mourning is a special place as we, “Draw near to God and He draws near to you”(James 4:7 NKJV).
Mourning is frequent throughout Scripture for losses and especially for the One who was pierced- Jesus. Trials and troubles will come, but we are to take heart for He has overcome the world (John 16:33). We can rejoice at the resurrection of our Messiah, but woe to those who do not bow their knees. Not until the end of the Bible in the apocalyptic Book of Revelation (Revealing) do we find final and full solace for, “‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away’” (Revelation 21:4). Now that is the Good News of the gospel of God’s future rule and reign in a New Heaven and New Earth. Rejoice church for your redemption draws nigh.