Training for Reigning - 47 - A word to the bereaved

A WORD TO THE BEREAVED
SOMETIMES WE WRITE letters to dear ones who have lost their mates. For our last enemy, Death, leaves us no respite from his heartless attacks; and so our "mourning with those who mourn" cannot end until the Lord comes. Writing as one who has passed this way, let me express deepest sympathy with all who have come to know the blackest of all Earth’s black days.
He, she, is gone . . . gone! . . . and won’t be coming back again. (Oh, the sickening finality of their departure!). Of the love, and the home-life you builded together, through sunshine and rain, nothing remains to you now but a heap of ashes. There are precious memories, of course; but, oh, how they hurt! For you have come to know the meaning of the word "desolate," now that your little world with its love and security has collapsed, and you must try, somehow, to carry on alone.
Likely you will be longing, intensely, to go straight home to Heaven to your loved one. Waiting for the coming of the Lord, or for death, will seem like a jail sentence. And perhaps there will be that inner wail, "Why, oh why did he, she, have to leave me like this? Oh, if only we both could have gone together." But to your questions there will be no answer. Death has robbed you of your beloved and will not be careful to reply. You must "serve your sentence," as it will seem to you, and stagger on along Life’s journey - alone.
Weep on, dear soul; and may none attempt to stop you. Did not the Lord Jesus weep with Martha and Mary that dark day? Many will try to comfort you but I shall not be of their number. They will mean well; but you will know so keenly that they do not understand. Every attempt they make will be only as a knife thrust opening up the wounds afresh. May you be given grace to bear with them. But the kind of comfort for which your soul will cry out will never come. True it is that we read of "the God of all comfort" (2 Cor. 1:3). Yet, if you will notice the margins of the Newberry and Scofield Bibles, you will see that the word means "encouragement," whereas what you will crave will be an alleviation of your grief and pain - which we are not promised, alas! Bp. Renison once truly wrote: "In the Bible the word ‘comfort’ is a promise that God will stand by a man in the day of his need, and will brace his heart, and steel his arm that he may conquer his troubles." And so I proved it to be. It was six months before the keenness of my grief dulled a little; and it was two years before my life, and that of my little ones, moved on past our Black Day so far that it became difficult to keep looking back. For we found, even as you will find, that it is quite impossible to keep on living in the past.
There were other lessons to be learned. Let me tell you about two or three of them in the hope that you may get a little light on some of your perplexities. First of all, there was the ceaseless going over and over of all the details of the death and funeral scenes. It was like the constant playing of a record, starting automatically the moment I was awake and recurring every time my mind was not actively engaged. It nearly drove me out of my senses; and for the first time I realized why some bereaved men took to drink. After several weeks of it, I learned that it was caused, not by sorrow, but by shock. Some nerve pills brought me blessed relief from this disorder.
Next, I found that all I wanted to talk about was my little mate and how much she meant to me. But nobody wanted to listen. Some even began to avoid me - with a smile! It was then that I took to "telling it all to Jesus"- not as if in prayer, but rather as a lost, bewildered man might tell it to his friend. And so I discovered that in the Lover of Calvary I had "a Friend that sticketh closer than a brother" (Prov. 18:24). Never once did He shun me, laugh at me, scold me, or turn a deaf ear. And in this new-to-me intimacy I have rejoiced ever since.
There were other lessons, but I must tell you the most important one of all. It was that, in dealing with us in this manner, God was not wrecking our lives - although it surely seemed as if they were ruined beyond repair. Instead, as it turned out, He was changing our course, leading us into another path; and all with the intention of making the most of our lives in view of the ages to come. Indeed, you will remember that Hannah’s song of rejoicing declares that while the Lord "killeth," He does so only in order to "make alive" (1 Sam. 2:6-7). The figurative killing is a promise of something better to come. The bringing down is in order that He may lift us up bye and bye.
So weep on, dear soul. Let no word of mine hinder you. But may the hand that was nailed to Golgotha’s tree tenderly wipe the tears away. And may the God of all encouragement "brace your heart and steel your arm" that you may become more than a conqueror. And as a softer, much more workable clay in the Heavenly Potter’s hands, may bitterness, resentment, and sorrow for yourself disappear; and may His re-modelling of your life receive your fullest acceptance, even if you cannot understand (John 13:7).
And now before I stop let me recall the time the God of all encouragement "comforted" His wishing-to-die servant, Elijah. The story is found in I Kings 19. How did He do it? The still small voice:
-told him to go right back to the country from which he sought to run away (vs. 15a);
-also that his idea of the hopelessness of everything was all wrong (vs. 14 with vs. 17).
-Then the Lord gave him MORE WORK TO DO - enough to keep him busy for about ten years! (Vs. lSb- 17).
And that little story, dear broken-hearted friend, was repeated in my own case, exactly. Yet in spite of all our tears and fears, I had to admit in a later day, "He hath done all things well" (Mark 7:37). May His faithfulness ever be your stay - Till He comes.