The entire chapter of Genesis 23 is dedicated to telling of Sarah’s death and burial. This highlights her importance in the redemptive story that unfolds in Genesis, but it also offers us insight into grief. Even for those of us in Christ—those of us who have the hope that death is not final—death still stings. We are to mourn and weep over our loved ones who have died, much like Abraham grieved over Sarah in this chapter.
But grieving can be difficult for some of us because we feel that we are not trusting in God when we do. We feel as if our grief communicates doubt in our resurrection hope, as if our grief focuses our attention too much on the now instead of looking at the eternal. And so we struggle in our grief. We feel the desire to grieve, the need to grieve, but we resist. We fight for stoicism, to maintain a stiff upper lip.
But here, and elsewhere in Scripture, we see that grieving is expected. Abraham was not chastised for his mourning and weeping. Revelation 21:4 tells us that one day, when Christ returns and makes all things new, “He will wipe away every tear” from the eyes of His people. “Death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” That will be then, but not now. Psalms 34:18 and 147:3 tell us that the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and that He heals them. First Thessalonians 4:13 tells us that as believers, we mourn death; we just do it differently from the world—we mourn with hope. And perhaps our greatest insight into the properness of mourning death comes from Jesus, who wept at Lazarus’ tomb (John 11:35). Mourning death is proper because in our tears we communicate the value of the gift God has given us in our loved one.
How has the gospel impacted your view of death and your grieving?