A time to mourn

ecclesiastes-3-4

This past Thursday, December 15, 2016, two dear friends and fellow believers were awakened at 4 a.m. to find their home engulfed in flames. The couple and their beloved dog escaped, but the home, their vehicles, and all of their possessions were totally destroyed.

Most remarkably, last Thursday in an American Literature class I was teaching at Carolina College of Biblical Studies we were discussing the poetry of Anne Bradstreet, devout Puritan poet of 17th Century New England, and we talked extensively about one of her most celebrated works: “Upon the Burning of Our House, July 10, 1666.”

In the reflective narrative poem, Bradstreet escapes from her burning house which is utterly destroyed and prays that God will give her strength to get through the devastating loss. Although she mourns the fact that she will no longer be able enjoy the pleasures that her former dwelling provided, she accepts the loss of her home, recognizing that it belonged to God in the first place. Instead of focusing on earthly possessions which she no longer has, she sets her affection on heavenly matters, recognizing that

Thou hast an house on high erect,
Framed by that mighty Architect,
With glory richly furnished,
Stands permanent though this be fled.

Rather than emphasizing her temporal loss, she chooses to end with the expectation of eternal gain:

The world no longer let me love,
My hope and treasure lies above.

Earlier this month, in a tribute to my father, I discussed the blues as an African American literary/musical form that attempts to vocalize a deep sense of loss. Often the focal point is lost love, but certainly any loss could evoke similar expressions in response. At times the loss is so deeply felt that no words can describe this “grief unspeakable.” Sometimes all one can do is moan in an attempt articulate the depth of sorrow that overwhelms the soul.

Once again we learn the harsh reality that suffering and loss are a part of life; indeed, “There is a time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn and a time to dance.”  I recall a statement made by some of the elder members of the church where I grew up: “Ain’t no harm to moan . . . sometime.”  This comment became the inspiration for the following poem which also comes to mind at this time:

Ain’t No Harm to Moan . . . Sometime

A time to weep, and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

Ecclesiastes 3:4

 

Jesus, the Savior said, “Blessed are they that mourn.”

Yes, sir, the Master said, “Blessed are they that mourn.”

Think about that the next time you’re sad and forlorn.

 

Though you may be a witness, proclaiming the gospel news.

Yes, you may be a witness, proclaiming the gospel news.

Yet and still, all God’s children gotta taste the blues.

 

Hard times come–some folk have few, and some have many.

Hard times come–some folk have few, and some have many.

Don’t forget, even Jesus had His Gethsemane.

 

Though dark clouds hang so low you don’t know what to do,

Though dark clouds hang so low you don’t know what to do,

Remember, the sun shines on the other side of “through.”

 

Don’t matter how low you go, how high you climb,

I declare, “Ain’t no harm to moan . . . sometime.”

At times in life we experience perplexing situations that defy our efforts to make sense of the circumstances surrounding us, as we endure heartache, suffering, and loss one more time. During such times the Scriptures remind us that God is our Father, a Father who is deeply touched by our grief. He is the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. Here is a wonderful reminder of God, our Father’s compassion, as this moving song offered by Babbie Mason encourages us to “Trust His Heart.

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5 Responses to “A time to mourn”

  1. Evan Pyle Says:

    Lonnell, this post touches me deeply, having recently experienced the deepest loss in human experience: the loss of a child. We are still working through the tip of the iceberg, crying out to God to touch our hearts and weave this loss into our character and greater compassion for others. I know I need a greater awareness of heaven for my heart to settle.
    On another note, my daughter is a literature scholar. Though she has gone in another direction, her initial field for a dissertation was Puritan devotional literature. Of course, Anne Bradstreet’s diaries have a prominent place in a culture that produced so much thoughtful and deep self-expression.

    • Dr. J Says:

      Evan,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to comment on my post. In a similar way, I was deeply moved by your sharing. What can I say but reiterate the reassuring words that God is deeply concerned about you and your family and that the God of all comfort will comfort you, as only He can, and that you will then be able to comfort others who are going through such a devastating loss.

      As I began to close my comment, I thought of another song that I think may minister to you in light of your circumstances. I am not sure if you have heard of “God Will Make a Way” by Don Moen. Here he explains the inspiration behind the popular song:

      This is a complete recording of the song that means so much to me and so many others:

      I trust that this will also bless you.

  2. Evan Pyle Says:

    Thank you. I know the song but never knew the story behind it.

  3. Brenda Johnson Says:

    Thanks for sharing. Hope you sent it to the Sides.

  4. Beatin’ the Blues – Belgian Ecclesia Brussel – Leuven Says:

    […] A time to mourn […]

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