How to Live the Bible — About Mourning
This is the fifty-fourth lesson in author and pastor Mel Lawrenz’ How to Live the Bible series. If you know someone or a group who would like to follow along on this journey through Scripture, they can get more info and sign up to receive these essays via email here.
Mel Lawrenz is the author of Life After Grief
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:4
Don’t ever let someone tell you there is something wrong with you if you are grieving. You are walking through a valley, and the shadows can look foreboding and cold. Yet, if you keep walking, you will emerge. Or, to use an analogy from the Old Testament:
It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, for death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart. Sorrow is better than laughter, because a sad face is good for the heart. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure (Eccles. 7:2–4).
A “sad face is good for the heart,” not all the time, but when it is the only honest response to a genuine loss. To paste on a false smile may make others more comfortable (and that’s why they don’t want you to grieve), but it may only prolong your grief. It is best for your face to be honest with your heart, thus keeping you honest with the people in your life. Our faces are our presentations of ourselves to the world of people around us. Our faces cry and whisper and shout; they plead and they query and they gift. Some people see the sad face of mourners and move in with compassion, “suffering with” the mourner. This is so right and so good. Others hope the mourner will smile, even if forced, because it is uncomfortable being around a sad person. This is disrespectful and selfish.
God knows that we will not always live in the house of mourning, but when we do mourn we need to spend time in that house, learn what must be learned there, and come out stronger for it. When Jesus said “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted,” he was telling us that because loss is inevitable in the kind of world we live in, so is mourning. But so also is the promise of God’s restoration.
This makes sense. When the worst happens, you go into “a house of mourning.” That is where you live for a season. No one can say exactly how long that season is, but that’s okay, because you know that things will change, and you will move out of that house. It is not your permanent address, though you will have some grief for years, or perhaps the rest of your life.
Mel Lawrenz (@MelLawrenz) trains an international network of Christian leaders, ministry pioneers, and thought-leaders. He served as senior pastor of Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, Wisconsin, for ten years and now serves as Elmbrook’s minister at large. He has a PhD in the history of Christian thought and is on the adjunct faculty of Trinity International University. Mel is the author of 18 books, including How to Understand the Bible—A Simple Guide and Spiritual Influence: the Hidden Power Behind Leadership (Zondervan, 2012). See more of Mel’s writing at WordWay.