Sunday, November 14, 2010

Highlights from Facing Grief (Flavel)

Following up from this post -- surely if anyone ever had reason to weep it was the Widow of Nain. Yet Jesus motivated by compassion tells her, "Weep not." Taking Luke 7:13 as his central text Puritan pastor John Flavel (1627-1691) applies Jesus' words in order to comfort believers and help them grieve in a way that glorifies God. Here are some tidbits from Flavel's comfort to Christian's facing the loss of someone dear.

The death of a loved one can't take away the believer's salvation in Christ.

. . . as long as our best mercies are all safe, the things that have salvation in them remain, and only the things that have vanity in them are removed, you are not prejudiced or much hindered as to the attainment of your last end by the loss of these things. (p. 45)

The duration of our loved one's life was what God intended it to be. His timing is best.

The time of our life, as well as the place of our habitation, was fixed before we were born. . . . Oh, if this had been done, or that omitted; had it not been for such miscarriages and oversights, my dear husband, wife, or child, had been alive at this day! No, no, the Lord's time was fully come, and all things concurred, and fell in together to bring about the pleasure of his will. Let that satisfy you. . . (p. 47)

Surely the Lord of time is the best judge of time; and in nothing do we more discover our folly and rashness, than in presuming to fix the times either of our comforts or our troubles. (p. 57)

Sometimes death is God's tool to spare one from some future evil.
Just as a careful and tender father who has a son abroad at school, hearing the plague is broken out in or near the place, sends his horse presently to fetch home his son before the danger and difficulty be greater: so death is our Father's pale horse which he sends to fetch home his tender children and carry them out of harm's way. (p. 54)

The ultimate comfort: the sure hope of resurrection and eternal life for us and our loved ones who die in Christ.
You shall have an everlasting enjoyment of them in heaven, never to part again. The children of the resurrection can die no more (Luke 20:36); you shall kiss their pale lips and cold cheeks no more; you shall never fear another parting pull, but be together with the Lord for ever (1 Thess. 4:17). (p. 68)

Angels neither marry nor are given in marriage; neither shall the children of the resurrection; when the days of our sinning are ended, the days of our mourning shall be so too. No graves were opened till sin entered, and no more shall be opened when sin is excluded. (p. 92)

I hope those may have whetted your appetite to check this book out for yourself. If you're a pastor, priest or elder you might want to keep a few copies on hand to give to grieving members of your flock, especially those with deep roots in the promises of scripture.

Quotes from Facing Grief: Counsel for Mourners (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2010)

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