With the passing of my father just under a week ago, I have come to realize that the great amount of sorrow that I have over my loss has at times been almost maddening. Having been close to my Dad, I have gone from weeping over losing him to laughing with family members while looking through photographs remembering good times and then back to weeping again in a moment of aloneness when reality hits and makes it’s point of the finality of my fathers death. I have noticed that the temptation to not read my Bible(to which, sadly I have fallen), in the midst of this tumult, distracting me from the spiritual sustenance I need. This, brothers and sisters, is idolatrous. Anything that would keep us from obeying our Lord and Saviour is nothing more than us preferring our own will over His. To sorrow too much, to the point of disobedience and doubt, to become consumed with our grief over what we have lost, is to become self-consumed, self-centered, self-focused, but as a Christian, we are commanded to be self-less. Don’t get me wrong though, I do understand the need to mourn. Death is not natural to us, it is not instituted until after sin is committed by those who were designed to be holy as the God who created them is holy. The reason death has such a sting to us is because it interrupts living. The point of living is to continue in life. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life. Life is that which can only be had in Christ. Christ is that which we can only have because God gives Him. Death reigns because of our rejection of God. Rejecting Him is the inauguration of sin. We should mourn over the loss of a loved one because we know that this is the price demanded of sin and not because we feel something that belonged to us has been taken from us. God owns all and it is His right and good pleasure to do as He wills with what belongs to Him.
One of the reasons I love to read the puritans is for their heaven focused, God centered outlook that they lean so heavily upon to interpret every situation in this life. For balancing sorrow, I have turned to John Flavel (1627 – 1691).
And when the Lord saw her, he had compassion on her, and said to her, Weep not.
To be above the stroke of passion, is a condition equal to angels: to be in a state of sorrow without the sense of sorrow, is a disposition beneath beasts: but duly to regulate our sorrows, and bound our passions under the rod, is the wisdom, duty, and excellency of a Christian. He that is without natural affections, is deservedly ranked amongst the worst of heathens; and he that is able rightly to manage them, deserves to be numbered with the best of Christians. Though when we are sanctified we put on the divine nature, yet, till we are glorified, we put not off the infirmities of our human nature.
Whilst we are within the reach of troubles, we cannot be without the danger, nor ought not to be without the fear of sin; and it is as hard for us to escape sin, being in adversity, as becalming in prosperity. (Works of John Flavel Vol. 5; page 607)