Joy Comes in the Mourning
The title to the series of messages we are about
to embark upon is Joy Comes In The Mourning.
There’s a little play on words.
When we say the word morning we usually mean when the sun comes up. But the word in our title is mourning:
m.o.u.r.n.i.n.g. When we are feeling and expressing our deep sorrow of a loss,
most often the loss of something or someone we love, that grief is called
mourning. There is a difference between
grief and mourning, grief is what we are experiencing inside, mourning is how
we demonstrate our feelings of grief. Grief
is what we feel, mourning is what we express.
The verse of scripture that will be our springboard into our exploration
of mourning is Psalm 30:5
Psalms 30:5 (NLT)
Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes
with the morning.
Here the poet is giving us hope. Our heart ache will last through our night,
but joy will replace it in the morning, when the sun comes up. Joy comes in the morning, m.o.r.n.i.n.g., but
when does morning come? For our
exploration morning comes through our mourning, m.o.u.r.n.i.n.g., the day of
joy dawns as we express the agony in our soul.
Every loss is the blackest of nights. Every loss must be mourned. Loss of a business, loss of a job, loss of a
marriage, a break up, a pet, the loss of a home, a dream, an expectation, a
plan, require our lament to be sung, but we are going to address the loss of a
loved one specifically. In this session
we are going to focus on immediate mourning.
One more piece of housekeeping; we need to define
joy. When we normally think of joy we
think of great pleasure or happiness, our hearts soaring, good times. The joy that comes in the mourning is not
like that. The joy aimed at is the sure
knowledge that God is in charge and will reconcile and redeem all things and in
this joy we find comfort and power to live well.
Joy comes in the mourning. Joy comes in our lament
for what is lost. Unfortunately our
grief lasts more than a night, a sunset to sunrise. Joy comes after “the” night. No one knows how
long “the” night lasts.
They’re dead, they’re gone! The emotional shock, at first you can’t feel
anything now the numbness is wearing off.
You’ve cried your eyes out, you’ve withdrawn, you’ve raged, you’ve done
everything you can to stop the pain, but nothing works for long. That’s the problem with self-meds, they allow
an escape for a while, but the reality of the loss is never gone. The pain is still there waiting, festering, after
the high. The memorial service is
over. Family and friends have honored
your departed, but now they too have drifted away, most likely not knowing how
to help you in your soul agony, not knowing what to say even if words could
somehow change everything. Your
beloved’s place is empty and your heart aches for them to fill it, your ears
strain to hear the sound of their voice, and the reality of the situation seems
to laugh at your wishes and desires. “Leaving you lonelier still.” (I Am I Said, Neil Diamond).
Seldom are we coached in how to mourn well. Our culture doesn’t like to consider
death. Mourning is our lament, the
expressing our emotions, our prayer of pain.
The Psalms abounds in laments. In your notes you’ll will find scripture
references to these laments. Psalm 22 is an example:
Psalms 22:2 (MSG)
Doubled up with pain, I call to God all the day
long. No answer. Nothing. I keep at it all night, tossing and turning.
[ Psalm 6:3-4, 7:2, 10:1, 13:3, 38:2 &9-11,
42:3-4, 44:23-24, 71:9, 88:4, 130—just a sampling ]
Doubled up with pain all night long. “The stronger the love, the more the pain”
(Joseph Campbell). Pain comes as rogue waves.
Famous Hawaiian Duke Kahanamoku popularized the saying “Never turn your
back on the ocean.” Walking along the
beach you never know when a wave will come with the power to drag you into the
sea. Emotional pain is like the ocean
waves. You must face it and deal with
it. Mourning is all about getting the
pain in your heart out and the only way to get the pain out is to express it.
One way you can help a friend mourn well is to
acknowledge their pain (John 11:35).
You can express your sorrow also.
It validates theirs. It allows them to share their feelings with you. In this you can comfort one another. “Shared
pain moves and breathes.” If something moves and breathes it doesn’t rot. One world of caution, don’t talk about the
way you are dealing with your pain that puts your friend in a position of trying
to care for you. One of the more important helps is to be quiet while being
present, do state the fact that this situation is horrible, but too many words
won’t be heard and too often we misspeak causing more grief.
To mourn well you need to accept that you are no
longer on top of your game. You have
taken such an emotional hit that you will not be able to think straight, you
may lose track of time, you may experience difficulty concentrating, your
sleeping patterns and eating habits may change which wears you down
physically. You may no longer be able to
read other people. You’re in a mental
fog. You can’t take care of business as
usual. These reasons are why you need
someone to watch over you. Now is not
the time to make any major decisions. In
order to embrace the pain put your trust in someone who empathizes with your
loss, who is not as distraught, and let them care for you (Proverbs 17:17). Let someone you trust look out for you and
your affairs even when you are at your ugliest, with anger and irritability,
and at your lowest with depression and tears. You need help, even if you’ve never needed it
before in your life.
This is one way you can help someone who is
mourning. They need help, can you? (Galatians
6:2) People who are mourning don’t think
clearly, so when you ask “is there anything you need?” They say no, not because everything is taken
care of, but because they can’t see beyond the pain. You don’t want to force your way in, imposing
yourself, but start doing things for them.
Aid them in housekeeping, communication, chores, repairs, errands,
shopping, meal prep, if appropriate take care of paying bills. Be concrete with your helping hand. Your friend is not helpless or suddenly
incompetent, so you offer your help not in the form of a question but what you
can do for them--not “do you need me to do…” but rather “I can do this for you Tuesday.” That gives them control of the
To mourn well you need to talk about your loss
(Psalm 32:3-4). You need someone to hold
you together while you’re falling apart.
We can become so depressed after the loss that we just want to curl up
in a ball and hide from the reality. It’s
quite alright to do so for brief periods of your day, but giving into despair
is not. You need the company of others
who will let you speak your heart. In
your heart may be anger, fear, and most certainly sorrow. These emotions need to be expressed, they
need to be witnessed, and that can only be accomplished in the company of
This is another way you can help someone who is
mourning: hear them (James 1:19). Hear
them with compassion and keep what you hear to yourself. Sometimes that hurting friend may emotionally
shoot at you, projecting their anger at you. Take the hit, that’s hard, don’t
take it personally, just redeem it by receiving it. Sometimes you hurting friend needs you to be
their confessor, sometimes their comforter always their witness, for you
validate their suffering. “To sit through tears, expressions of anger and
confusion and hopelessness, and times of numbness, for as long as it takes” is
an incredible gift (Candyce Ossefort-Russell). What they do not need is your
advice. Your advice is a tone-deaf way
of trying to fix their problem for them.
This cannot be done for them. As
an outsider looking in you may see a million things that they should do to “get
over it.” Please refrain from the
temptation. “Painful feelings, borne
alone, can be unendurable; together with a trusted companion, they can be borne…”
(Diana Fosha) The bearing leads to joy.
To mourn well you need to be honest with God (Job
7:20). Many believer’s carry around a
notion of God’s sovereignty that requires an understanding that God is in total
control of everything. Therefore who
really is responsible for your anguish?
God. God is to blame, He could
have intervened, He could have directed otherwise, He could have healed, He
could have provided. You prayed, you
fasted and prayed, you prayed through nights, you had prayer meetings, you did
every religious thing you could think of to get God to do what only He
could. No deliverance came, instead a
nightmare (Psalm 69:16). Once again be
directed to the scripture:
Psalms 102:1-2 (MSG)
God, listen! Listen to my prayer, listen to the
pain in my cries. Don't turn your back on me just when I need you so
desperately. Pay attention! This is a cry for help! And hurry—this can't wait!
[Also read Psalm 18:6, 27:7, 28:2, 40:13]
A great preacher of yesteryear wrote: “Faith is
allowed to enquire of her God the causes of his displeasure, and she is even
permitted to expostulate (argue and protest) with him and put him in mind of
his promises, and ask why apparently they are not fulfilled. If the Lord be
indeed our refuge, when we find no refuge, it is time to be raising the
question, ‘Why is this?’” (Charles Spurgeon).
In your Bible the book of Job is a classic case of
demanding an explanation. Wrestle with
God, it’s OK, just don’t give up on God, don’t repudiate your faith, the
struggle will end ushering in that joy, that confidence in God that the scales
will be balanced, what was lost will be found, what stolen redeemed, what’s
broken made new.
Another way you can help someone to mourn well is
to listen to their complaint. They have
a bone to pick with God, let them protest, question, and struggle. Guard their faith with your prayers (Colossians
1:9). What you don’t want to do is
reassure them with Christian clichéd platitudes, like “God’s ways are not our
ways.” “He’s in a better place.” “God needed her more than you.” Your task is not to correct, refute their
thinking or offer them answers, but to comfort, and you comfort by affirming
their struggle, encouraging them to fight on in faith.
To mourn well, take off the masks (2 Corinthians
4:2 MSG). Maybe you think you have be
the rock, the strong one, the stoic one.
There may be those that are dependent upon you, those you have to be
there for, so you stuff your emotions. You soldier on. There are two dangers here, if you don’t
address your own pain, you become like a pressure cooker with no relief valve.
As the days wear on you get closer to an emotional explosion or what used to be
called a nervous breakdown. The second
danger is that you become detached emotionally to those who need you to feel with
them, to mourn with them. The solution
is to be real with your pain, you don’t have to hide your suffering from your
kids. Your tears can comfort your kids
letting them know that it is ok for them to mourn their loss too. This also applies to your spouse.
You can help someone to mourn well by giving them
a break from their responsibilities (Mark 6:31 b). Give them some alone time, take the kids out,
but the purpose outing is not to cheer them up or distract them from their own
pain, but to give them some space to express their pent up emotions and quiet
time for your friend. Kids often don’t know how to handle loss, let them know
that you are hurting too. Your presence
lets them know that they are not alone.
Here’s what we have:
There is no time line for your expression of mourning
to come to an end. The suffering starts
with the news of the loss. For a day of
joy to come you must express the grief that is inside you. Mourning is all about getting the pain in
your heart out. That recent loss throws
you, realize that you are no longer on top of your game, give yourself the gift
of time, creating that space for yourself is part of mourning. Mourning well requires you to talk about your
loss, you need someone to walk with you through these difficult days, someone
you can confide in. You need to be
honest with God, your lament is like a wrestling match with God, you demand
answers, you search for meaning in the madness, this is time for authentic
faith. Remember you don’t have it all
together, to project an image that everything is all right, take off the mask,
it’s OK to be a mess.
Joy comes through the mourning. This is a mystery. I don’t know how it occurs, or when it
occurs, but that confidence that God is in charge and one day everything will
be set right and that hope empowers you to keep on keeping on (Revelation 21:4)
does eventually come.
"The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and
saves the crushed in spirit."
For those who mourn well, in your rants and raves,
your acting out, your anger, your pain, God sees your broken heart. He mysteriously repairs your crushed soul.
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall
For those who mourn well, in your bewilderment,
standing in the anguish of lost expectation, not knowing how you can go on, God
mysteriously brings comfort.
Do you know God?
He is the one you need to have confidently by your side in the darkest
of nights. Acknowledge your need for
Him. Believe that Jesus has made
fellowship with Him possible. Commit
yourself to walking with Him. Ask God to draw near to you. He will lead you into the dawn.
If you are mourning today, Romans 15:13 is my
prayer for you.
"May the God of hope fill you with all joy
and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound
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