Comfort for Mourners by Henry Law, abridged
Sorrow has crossed the threshold of your home and now sits a downcast inhabitant in your heart. You mourn as one from whom all joy is fled. The saddened countenance–the open fount of tears–the swelling sighs–the shrinking from needless discourse–the pensive musing–clearly prove your burden of distress. This grief must spring from some most crushing cause. It is so. You drink affliction’s bitterest cup. Death has approached with withering power, and one, most tenderly beloved, has fallen.
Ever working its relentless work, bereavement now touches you. You bow beneath its desolating blow.
- The form on which you joyed to gaze no longer lives.
- The voice, so charming to your ear, can never more be heard on earth.
- A vacant seat tells of a sadder vacancy within.
- The dear one–dearer far than self–must now be covered in the grave.
You mourn with grievous mourning. With weeping friends, the Christian ever weeps. Be assured your grief is not exclusively your own.
The Bereaved in Scripture
Scripture shows many pictures of the bereaved. It states, but never chides their grief. Mourners pass the sacred page attractive and endearing. We honor, while we sympathize.
- There is no eclipse of holy dignity in Abraham when he “came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.”– Gen. 23:2.
- Where is the heart which disesteems the agony of Jacob, when, supposing Joseph to be slain by beasts, “he tore his clothes, and put sackcloth upon his loins, and mourned for his son many days.” He refused to be comforted; and he said: “For I will go down into the grave unto my son mourning. Thus his father wept for him.”– Gen. 37:34, 35.
- How many sighs re-echo David’s wail: “O my son Absalom, my son, my son! Absalom! Would God I had died for you, O Absalom, my son! my son!”–2 Sam. 18:33.
- The blessed Jesus with approving love joins in the tears of Bethany’s sad sisters.
- The Psalmist consecrates the sorrow of an orphan child in the similitude: “I bowed down heavily, as one that mourns for his mother.”–Ps. 35:14.
Can any wings convey some words of loving comfort? Without intrusion or disturbing presence, can tender whispers soothe; can quiet entrance be gained; can an unseen finger point to true solace; can the mourner weep alone, and still hear truths strong to minister relief?
From the Valley of Grief to Enduring Peace
May it be found that the valley of grief often leads to pastures of enduring peace! Holy Spirit! give Your smile, and then the sting of suffering is gone. Let, then, the Word be heard. “Affliction comes not forth of the dust, neither does trouble spring out of the ground.”–Job 5:6. It is not chance which thus bereaves you. “God’s never-failing providence orders all things in heaven and in earth.” No sparrow falls to the ground without the counsel of His will. Matt. 10:29.
Now under this dark cloud let grateful love still testify: “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”Job 1:21. The love which gave Christ Jesus to the cross writes goodness on all dealings. Realize that it is His hand which presses you so heavily, and in its very weight, you will find elements of comfort. Out of the darkness, there will spring up light. Only say, My Father–the Father of all mercies–the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ–the God, whose name is love, thus smites, and heavenly calm will lull the waves of sorrow to repose.
In this bereavement, Jesus seems to stand at the door of your heart and knock. Rev. 3:20. Open immediately. Admit the willing Savior. Fall low on your knees in this your house of death. No longer spurn the mercies of the Cross. Cast yourself into the expanded arms of reconciling love. Arise a living soul. “Awake, you that sleep and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give you light”–Eph. 5:14. Thus may this present sorrow prove to be God’s blessing in the highest!
Your present anguish, then, is a hopeful sign, that hidden purposes of love are ripe. Often on these wings of sorrow, the Spirit flies to make glad the heart. Through your fast-falling tears may heavenly love be seen in heavenly light!
- May these blessings now be richly yours!
- May Jesus’ presence fill the new-made void.
- May you hear the storm-allaying voice: It is I, be not afraid–look unto Me and moderate your grief–cast all your care on Me, and be sustained–receive Me, and be comforted.
And when your secluded days shall end,
- May you go forth, a light to enlighten–a sweet savor to refresh–a mighty power to attract to Christ!
- May He from this day be your total life!
Then when you lie down to die—
- May death, which is a Christian treasure (1 Cor. 3:22), be welcomed with no shrinking fear.
- May you extend a willing hand to the messenger who will bear you to your waiting Lord.
You will then learn, what words of man can never teach, how great a Savior is the blessed Jesus; and how salvation infinitely exceeds what hope can paint, or heart conceive, or flesh and blood inherit.
This joy is vast indeed, but it is not complete. It is perfect so far as the spirit parted from the body can rejoice. But the BODY is required to constitute the entirety of man. Perfect consummation tarries for this reunion. For this, the happy spirits wait. They know this fullness to be sure. They know it to be near. They joy in the prospect, that yet a little while they shall surround their Lord descending to revisit the earth. Then he will call their sleeping bodies from their graves. Then the awakened dust will be arrayed with glory, and spiritual tenements receive their former inhabitants. This is perfection–perfection in glory–perfection without end. Who will not cry,
- We bless You, O God, for the redemption in Christ Jesus!
- We bless You for all the joys of faith on earth.
- We bless You for those now living in Your holy service.
- We bless You for those departed in Your faith and fear.
- We bless You for all the bliss of disembodied spirits in Your presence.
- We bless You for the coming consummation of resurrection-life.
To Father, Son, and Holy Spirit be glory without end! Let mourners say, “Amen!” and in their mourning, they will smile.
Since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith... Heb 12:1-2
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