ISAIAH 53:3 - Berean Lamp Memory Verse - (Nov 13-20)
The Berean Lamp Memory Verse for this week is:
“He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him” (Isaiah 53:3).
Should we grieve as Christians? The answer depends on who you talk to. There are many Christians who do not think that Believers should mourn for loss or death. They argue that the resurrection ensures a hopeful future where we will be restored and reunited with those we have lost and because of that, we should experience joy when we suffer loss and separation, because our loved ones go to be with Christ. It is true that we have the hope of the resurrection for ourselves and for our friends and family who are known by Christ, but God never instructs us not to grieve when we suffer loss or separation - on the contrary, He actually instructs us to grieve. Why is that?
The answer is that God did not design us to die or to suffer loss. Death and loss are not natural. We were not designed to be separated from life, not from God, not from our fellow man, not even from animals or plants. Indeed, heart-rending dirges have been written for forests and beautiful locations that were destroyed by the fallen nature. You see, God designed us to live forever in His presence - never to be separated from God or our family - never to suffer pain, loss, or death. And so, when we suffer these unnatural things, our natural response is grief - a deep sorrow - "a feeling of deep distress caused by loss, disappointment, or other misfortune suffered by oneself or others" - Google Dictionary. We instinctively know these things that befall us are not natural because God did not design us for them.
We can see this by a survey of the Scriptures. Throughout the Old Testament, people of faith (even those listed in Hebrews 11), grieved and mourned when they experienced loss and separation. The Scriptures detail this with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Job, David, and Jeremiah, and many, many more. Recall that when Joseph was declared dead, “Jacob tore his clothes, and put sackcloth on his loins and mourned for his son many days. Then all his sons and all his daughters arose to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. And he said, ‘Surely I will go down to Sheol in mourning for my son.’ So his father wept for him” (Genesis 37:24-25).
Jesus Himself is described as "a man...acquainted with grief." And as He approached His death, He was grieved, to the point of death. For, He was going to experience a separation from natural life and a separation from his disciples, but more so, a separation from His Father when sin fell on Him for the first time as He took it upon Himself.
Grief and sorrow may seem counter-intuitive to some of us who believe that death is a form of victory - that our loved ones are going to be with Christ. But rather than deny how we are designed, God acknowledges how He made us by instructing us to grieve with those who grieve. The only injunction that Scripture gives us is that we should not grieve as people who have no hope of restoration and reunion. Namely, we should not despair in our grief. For we will be restored in eternity and we will be reunited with our loved ones. Still, that can be small comfort in the here-and-now and so we should not judge those who grieve, nor should we pressure them to "get over it" or say it is "unhealthy." Rather, let us mourn with them and comfort them in our sorrow for their pain.
Up till this point, we have been addressing the death of Believers and the loss experienced by Believers, but what about those who do not know Christ? There is deep grief for those who are not saved. Paul had unceasing grief in his heart for his fellow Jews who were rejecting Jesus, because he knew if they continued in it, they would be separated from God and from Paul for all eternity. This caused Paul deep grief. Again, Paul did not grieve to despair - and in like manner, we must entrust ourselves, our Believing love ones, and our unbelieving loved ones to our God, Who is righteous and just and does not wish for any to perish. Yet, we grieve for them.
The bottom line is that grief is part of this fallen experience and it is contrary to God's Word to teach that Believers should not grieve. Indeed, it is only in eternity when God will finally undo the natural response of grief and sorrow when He does away with loss, pain, and death once and for all. How we long for that day, even if we do grieve now for a time! Even so, Amen!
May we mourn with those who mourn and may we understand that grief is a natural response to the unnatural outcomes of the fallen nature - the pain, sin, death, and separation we experience here on earth until the time our God makes our human choice of sin and rebellion right through the return of Jesus Christ as King over all the earth. Amen!
Other verses to consider:
“The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart” (Genesis 6:6).
“So Jacob tore his clothes, and put sackcloth on his loins and mourned for his son many days. Then all his sons and all his daughters arose to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. And he said, ‘Surely I will go down to Sheol in mourning for my son.’ So his father wept for him” (Genesis 37:24-25).
“How long shall I take counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart all the day? How long will my enemy be exalted over me?” (Psalm 13:2)
“My sorrow is beyond healing, My heart is faint within me!” (Jeremiah 8:18)
“And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed. Then He said to them, ‘My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me’” (Matthew 26:37-38).
“After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored” (Mark 3:5).
“Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will grieve, but your grief will be turned into joy” (John 16:20).
“Therefore you too have grief now; but I will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and no one will take your joy away from you” (John 16:22).
“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13).
“Because in much wisdom there is much grief, and increasing knowledge results in increasing pain” (Ecclesiastes 1:18).
“I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh” (Romans 9:1-3).
“Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15).
“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven...A time to weep and a time to laugh;
A time to mourn and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:4).
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthews 5:4).
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away’” (Revelation 21:3-4).