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02 July, 2014

Christ in Bereavement

Octavius Winslow, 1863


"Surely, I am with you always — even unto the end of the world!" Matthew 28:20

Hallelujah, what a savior
Christ is ever with you — in the hour of bereavement. He, too, drank of this bitter cup. He does not offer you a heart unacquainted with your grief. He had much to do with death when on earth. He sympathized with its sorrow, awoke its slumbers, robbed it of its prey, became its Victim, and then its Victor! He has permitted this bereavement to visit you. Not without His will and His purpose of love — has He smitten you with this woe, visited you with this loss. Has your Heavenly Father written you a widow, an orphan, childless, friendless? Has He removed the joy of your heart, the light of your home, the hope of your family, the strong and beautiful staff upon which you leaned for support? Is your door darkened with the funeral that bears from its threshold, all that was so fondly loved and precious?

Oh, deem not yourself forsaken, desolate, and bereft! Christ was never nearer to you, than now. The Christ who bedewed the turf of Lazarus's grave with tears of bereaved affection for the dead, and of sacred sympathy with the living — is spiritually at this moment, by your side! He offers you a heart touched with your grief, throbbing with a love that more than compensates for the beloved one now cold in death! He offers you an arm that shall be equal in its strength and support to your emergency! He offers you a shield that will encircle your person, your position, and your interests — infinitely more potent and safe than that which at one fell stroke God has laid low. Christ is sensibly, and manifestly with you now — ah wish not to displace Him by recalling the treasure from which you have parted.

It is recorded of the amiable and pious Fenelon, that in the eulogy he pronounced over the Dauphin, his illustrious pupil and friend, as the corpse shrouded with the pall was placed in the church before the pulpit, where, "Lovely in death, the beauteous ruin lay!" he uttered these words; "There lies the hope of his father! the delight of his court! the object of the nation's joyful anticipation! But so convinced am I of his happy state, that, if the turning of a straw would bring him back, I would not turn that straw."

Weeping mourner! bereaved Christian! in the bright sunshine of hope which bathes the coffined remains of "one so dear," read this holy lesson of cheerful acquiescence with the will of your Father, and express your perfect satisfaction in the eternal happiness of the departed one now sweetly sleeping in Jesus. If the turning of a straw would recall him from the realms of glory — would you be willing to turn that straw? This new, deeper, and darker sorrow — shall bring Jesus with it.

Its anguish will be solaced by His love,
its loneliness will be shared by His presence,
its gloom will be brightened with His smile,
its calamity will be sanctified by His grace, and
all its new-born exigencies will be met by His boundless resources of wisdom, power, and love. "Surely, I am with you always!"

Christ is, especially with His people in bereavement. In the sad hour when the heart is full of desolation, His voice is heard saying, "Let not your heart be troubled." We may be despoiled of the heart's richest treasures — and yet Jesus may fill it with His richest consolations.