The House of Mourning

The House of Mourning

At a recent funeral, I sat and listened to the memories that were being shared and sang the words to the familiar hymns of hope and praise, my faith was strengthened. I gave thanks to God for the hope that we have in Christ. As is usually the case in services of this nature, it was a very encouraging experience. I later thought about those who do not attend memorial services or funerals. I thought about how much they miss in their refusal to be present on such occasions. They truly have no idea what a loss they are suffering. I know this because the Bible tells us this is the case. Consider these familiar words of Scripture: “It is better to go to a house of mourning Than to go to a house of feasting, because that is the end of every man, And the living takes it to heart.” Ecclesiastes 7:2 This is not the opinion of the writer of Ecclesiastes. This is God, through the words of Solomon, telling us there is a great value and purpose in attending memorial services.

If God says there is a value and purpose in these kinds of gatherings, then we can know this is an absolute truth. To refuse to go to the house of mourning, is to miss out on this important value and purpose. The value of being present is seen in the words, “it is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting.” Why is it better? This is where the purpose is found: “Because this is the end of every man, and the living takes it to heart.” Relating to memorial services, the Bible also gives us this instruction, through the inspired words of Paul: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” Romans 12:15 Being present at a memorial service allows one an opportunity to weep with someone, or several, in their time of loss. Even if their loved one was a Christian, there is still grieving (cf. 1 Thess. 4:13). Cards are nice, and sometimes that may be all one can do. However, there is nothing like a hug and the sharing of tears.

Someone may say, “I don’t know what to say on such occasions.” Sometimes it is not what you say, it is just that you are there with them in their time of grief. One person wrote: I was sitting, torn by grief. Someone came and talked to me of God’s dealings, of why it happened, of hope beyond the grave. He talked constantly, he said things I knew were true. I was unmoved, except to wish he’d go away. He finally did. Another came and sat beside me. He didn’t talk. He didn’t ask leading questions. He just sat beside me for an hour and more, listened when I said something, answered briefly, prayed simply, left. I was moved. I was comforted. I hated to see him go.

If you are one, who by habit or intent, does not attend memorial services, I hope this short article will be an encouragement to you to reconsider. We can be a great encouragement to someone in their time of loss. Remember, we all experienced such times. Who would we like to come and weep with us in our time of loss? The basic principle of what this is all about was expressed well in these familiar words of our Savior: “For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.” Matthew 25:35 -36

~Excerpted from article by John M. Buttrey II


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