Nevertheless, we grieve. Some of it is for the person who is no longer enjoying life, but as we focus on Mom’s eternal life, that grief cannot grip us very tightly. She is rejoicing with her Savior and we must also rejoice for her.
For many, a major part of grief is the emptiness that comes with loss. That emptiness can be so severe that those with strong wills determine to push it away. But grief cannot be pushed. It will come back stronger each time. The only way to weaken it is to allow it in and let it happen. Then, when it comes back, it has less power to devastate and eventually turns to good memories and, for Christians, the anticipation of seeing our loved ones again.
Spurgeon writes today about a different kind of grief, the grief that people experience when they realize what their sin did to the Son of God.
But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)Spurgeon describes the scourge used by Roman officials. It was made of the sinews from oxen. Sharp bones were inter-twisted here and there among the sinews so that every time the lash came down, these pieces of bone inflicted savage laceration, tearing flesh from the bone.
Today’s devotional reading bids Christians to stand and weep over the body of Jesus that was so abased and abused for our sin. We must grieve His death even as we rejoice in His life, not because we have lost Him, but because He suffered so we might be redeemed from our lost state.
At the end of the morning reading, Spurgeon says, “We would fain go to our chambers and weep; but since our business calls us away, we will first pray our Beloved to print the image of his bleeding self upon the tablets of our hearts all the day, and at nightfall we will return to commune with him, and sorrow that our sin should have cost him so dear.”
Putting off this grief seemed strange behavior for this devoted man of God. It must have affected him that way too, for his evening devotional returned to the same topic. He used the example of an Old Testament woman protecting the bodies of her children to illustrate how we ought to feel and act concerning the death of our Lord and Savior.
Then Rizpah the daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it for herself on the rock, from the beginning of harvest until rain fell upon them from the heavens. And she did not allow the birds of the air to come upon them by day, or the beasts of the field by night. (2 Samuel 21:10)Spurgeon asks if the love of a woman to her slain sons could make her prolong her vigil, how can we become weary of considering the sufferings of Jesus? She drove away birds of prey. We ought to chase from our minds those preying thoughts that keep us from considering His death. She bore the heat of summer, night chills and rain, unsheltered and alone. She could not sleep because her heart was too full of sorrow. She loved her children. Do we love our Savior like that?
This woman endured. Do we quickly change our focus at the first little inconvenience or trial? She had courage to chase off wild beasts. Are we ready to encounter every foe for Jesus’ sake? Her children were slain by other hands, yet she wept and watched. What should we do when we recognize that it was our sin that put Jesus under such great suffering?
Spurgeon goes on to remind me that even though those ghastly corpses were horrible in the sight of Rizpah, there is nothing revolting, but everything compelling about my dying Savior. It is a grief but also an honor to stand at the foot of His Cross — weeping in total awareness of what He has done.
*****Jesus, I am often guilty of spending a precious few moments with You only to be distracted by the cares of this world. When I do focus, I am usually thinking of the glory of who You are and the wonder of this eternal life You have shared with me. However, Spurgeon reminds me that I also need to gaze at Your suffering too. It was my sin that slashed into Your purity and innocence. It was for me that Your blood flowed in sacrifice that covered all sin.
Human grief when embraced usually ebbs, but this grief when embraced intensifies. Yet that is not a bad thing. Paul said he suffered the loss of all things, “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death” (Philippians 3:10). He knew this identification with Your suffering was a vital part of his devotion in serving You.
The greatest wonder is that grief for your pain and sorrow works a little like Your shed blood. That is, allowing myself to weep for Your pain becomes a catharsis for mine, and Your suffering becomes a most incredible solace.