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Mourning Is Integral to Christian Life

The Voice of Zion March 2024 - Editorial --


As we journey through life, we encounter trials, losses, death and disappointment that evoke deep sorrow and grief. Yet mourning is not a burden, nor is it an obstacle to faith. Mourning is not in contrast with Christian life, but rather central to it.


Ecclesiastes teaches us that there are times in life set aside for mourning. God has planned these seasons for our benefit. As we mourn, we express our emotions and thoughts that rise from grief. We have customs that indicate we are expressing such feelings, and our expression also enables others to feel and show their grief and loss.


These customs have evolved around symbols, cultural and biblical. In Old Testament times, the town of Nineveh repented. The king of Nineveh wore sackcloth and sat in ashes to demonstrate his sorrow over sin (Jonah 3:6). Yet today we humans are slow to comprehend our sinfulness and incapable of completely understanding death and resurrection. 


Jesus’ own sorrow and pain is remembered at the time of Lent, and His suffering is reflected in the ashes, dark colors and minor key in music we see and hear at events during this season. These same symbols repeat when mourning a loved one. We humans need this outward signaling to help us comprehend death, sin and Jesus’ suffering for human salvation.


This time of Lent is a time of solemn reflection and preparation for the celebration of Christ’s resurrection. The words of Jesus in the Beatitudes take on added significance: “Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted” (Matt. 5:4). During Lent, we are called to examine our hearts, acknowledge our sins and repent of them. It is a time when we confront the brokenness and imperfections within ourselves and the world around us, and we find ourselves mourning over our own failings and the effects of sin.


Yet even in the midst of our mourning, we are reminded we are blessed. Our mourning does not go unnoticed by our heavenly Father. He sees our tears and hears our cries, and in His infinite mercy, He promises comfort to those who mourn.


What, then, is the comfort that is promised? It is not merely the temporary solace offered by earthly comforts but the deep, abiding consolation that comes from God Himself. As believers, we find comfort in the promises of God’s Word, particularly in the gospel message of Jesus Christ. This comfort sustains us in our darkest moments; nothing can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ, our Lord.


Mourning teaches us humility and dependence on God. It reminds us of our fragility as human beings. It humbles us before the Almighty and draws us into deeper reliance on His strength and grace. It also teaches us empathy and compassion for others who are suffering, enabling us to bear one another’s burdens and fulfill the commandments of Christ.


Our mourning is never in vain. It is a sign of humanity, our capacity to love deeply and our longing for wholeness. As believers, we are called to bring our sorrows and burdens to Christ, who bore the weight of our sins and suffered on our behalf. In His suffering, we find solidarity with our own suffering, knowing that He understands our pain and promises to walk with us through it.


This season of the church year and those seasons of mourning in our life are important gifts from God because they awaken us to our own sinfulness, promote within us reflection and guide us to rely on God’s mercy. These seasons can also awaken those outside God’s kingdom to realize their sinful state and to seek God’s grace.  

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