This pastoral passage was written for LRBC for February 24 2019
Death has been on my mind a lot this week. Last Sunday we were informed of the sudden death of someone from our extended church family. The day after someone from my wife’s family passed away after a long illness. The loss will be felt keenly by those who are close to each of these people.
For Christians amongst Christians, we will be familiar with the promises God has for his people and of Jesus’ resurrection as a pledge for his people’s future life (e.g. Isa. 25:6-9; 26:19; Rom. 8:11; Col. 1:15; Rev. 1:19). This hope is a strong confidence that is rightfully ours in Christ. It is grounds for rejoicing rather than despairing in the face of death. We should know better than to grieve like those who don’t have this hope (1Thess. 4:13).
However, experience will teach us that although this hope should give us gladness, it does not remove but only blunts the varied griefs we suffer and does not fill the hole left in the lives of those left behind.
It is important to ‘rejoice with those who rejoice’ when there are occasions to celebrate, and also to ‘weep with those who weep’ in occasions of loss (Rom. 12:15). If and as appropriate, grieving for others’ grief is a small but important comfort.
I don’t think this is something easy to do (I myself certainly find this kind of thing very difficult), but it is important. Believers in their Christian communities are likened to parts of a single body, and the care and love of sharing in others’ sorrow is one way that demonstrates the reality at a personal level (1Cor. 12:26).
If you can find a way to do so suitably, weep with those who weep.