A Time for Mourning
by Alan P. Medinger
Mourning is the process of acknowledging our pain and our regrets so that we can bring them to Jesus. This article is based on something I wrote in my journal several years ago.
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted." Matthew 5:4
We mourn for that which is lost. It may be a life -- or a soul. It may be an opportunity, or a way of life; it may be innocence. We mourn because we have lost something. Mourning is different from sentimentality, or mercifulness, or self-pity. Jesus mourned over the loss of so many souls in Jerusalem. He wept because he identified with Mary and Martha in their loss of Lazarus.
Mercy is appropriate when there is something we can do to make things right. Mourning is appropriate when there is nothing we can do because the life, or the opportunity, or the innocence is already gone; it is past. We mourn because we can't undo it. We are helpless. Our helplessness to do anything about the loss is an essential element of mourning.
The majority of people who come to Regeneration are in their late twenties or older. A good many are in their thirties or forties. Many have much to mourn about. A good part of their life is past and they have spent that time locked into a behavior and an orientation that has been simply a dead end. Growing up "different", they may not have experienced the joys and struggles of their peers, especially in their same sex and opposite sex relationships.
While friends were getting married, having children and establishing homes, the homosexual struggler was either living in emotional isolation or was seeking after that which he or she would ultimately discover could never satisfy. Especially for our women who are in their thirties or forties, marriage is unlikely. Eligible Christian men in their age group are few and far between. For many men and women, even with marriage, they are at an age at which parenthood is no longer likely. The years have been lost and nothing can be done to regain them.
Other losses can be as painful. Parents may be deceased so the opportunity to really know them and love and be loved by them may be gone. Innocence may be lost, either through abuse or because of a chosen lifestyle. For some of our men, because of promiscuity, or even a single unwise encounter, health and the prospect of a long life has been lost, and their is nothing they can do about it.
I was 38 years old when my healing started. What lost years -- years of bondage to compulsive behavior, years of a farce of a marriage, years of emotional isolation. Half of my life was gone, and it had been a life of pain, compulsion, isolation and self-rejection.
But Jesus came to save the lost He, and He alone can save the lost souls in Jerusalem. He, and He alone can raise Lazarus from the dead. He can take past failures and lost opportunities and turn them into something good. He can even restore lost innocence. He took my lost years and turned them into something so good, so much so that I can not imagine wanting my life to have gone any other way.
Jesus has promised us comfort when we mourn. But before we look to the comfort that is promised, let us look a little more deeply at mourning.
Mourning is the opposite of denial. To mourn is to be a realist. We all live in a sinful and broken world, a world in which pain and suffering are a reality. We all have things in our past that we regret, things we wish we had never done, or things we wish had never been done to us -- some of them quite serious. As Christians, we may be tempted to deny some of those things, especially if they are in the category of what was done to us. Our concept of forgiveness, or our desire to avoid self-pity may lead us to try to paper over painful events or relationships that need to be dealt with. Mourning is the process of acknowledging our pain and our regrets so that we can bring them to Jesus. Deny the hurts and regrets -- fail to mourn -- and you may never receive the comfort or healing.
Ecclesiastes tells us (Ch. 3, vs. 4) that there is aa time to mournn. A dear friend of ours lost his wife not long ago. They had been married almost 50 years, and although she was getting on in years, she was a strong and lively woman. No one, our friend included, thought that she would go before her husband. The loss was tremendous. I don't know any man who was more devoted to his wife. It was interesting to see how our friend has dealt with his loss. Only now, nine moths later is he coming into full mourning. At first the loss was so great, it was not yet time for him to mourn. In many ways he made believe she was still with him. They had shared their quiet times with the Lord together, and after her death he would still talk to her during his quiet times. Now, however, with every event at which his beloved wife would have been present, he is likely to weep. The time has come for him to more fully face his loss and to mourn.
There is a time also not to mourn. Mourning is never to be a perpetual state. This does not mean the absence of all pain or sorrow, but it means that the pain and the sorrow has been fully recognized and laid at the feet of Jesus.
"If only..." is the cry of the one who will not let go of the hurts and regrets of the past. If only leads nowhere. "If only" is to deny reality. When we mourn, we fully recognize what has happened so that we may bring it to the Lord. To cry, "If only," is to live in a world that never was, to imagine that we might never have lost that thing that would have been so precious. Mourning starts to lay down the pain. "If only" keeps alive our blaming of ourselves or of others. Don't confuse true morning with your "if only".
What is this comfort that we who mourn are promised? It may come in several forms.
When the loss is a loved one, most likely it will come in the easing of the pain. Because we have the capacity to love, to believe that we would totally cease to feel the loss of a loved one, especially one who is taken from us by an untimely death, would be foolish. But time and the process of dealing with the Lord through mourning can diminish the pain, as we have all seen with our Christian friends. Pain can diminish even to the extent that real joy can return.
The comfort may come in the form of restoration, as with God's promise to the people of Israel in Joel 2:25: "I will restore to you the years the locusts have eaten." With Job, the comfort came with restoration as he was given new children, and new lands and new cattle. Often that which is provided in the restoration is far better than that which was lost. For me, God restored my marriage and made it something better than I ever could have dreamed a marriage would be. The manhood I sense in myself today, is probably a greater source of joy than most men experience.
Or the comfort may come in the form of compensation. This is the classic, "AIl things work together for good," promise. God takes that which we lost or that over which we have felt such pain or loss and uses it for good. Those of us who have come out of homosexuality and have been given a ministry to others who seek such freedom have received much more than that which we lost in our earlier years. The person who passed by their marrying or childbearing years in homosexuality, may find great comfort in the opportunities to minister and the freedom to serve that are open in the single life or in the life of a couple without children. A loss may still be recognized, but mourning for that loss opens us up to the new life that God promises.
Is there something for which you need to mourn? Lost opportunities? Lost innocence? Lost years? Examine your life. Perhaps your failure to mourn this loss has been what has been holding up your healing. Prayerfully examine your life in this regard. If the Holy Spirit shows you that this is the time for you to mourn, do it. Come before Jesus and weep over that which is lost. Feel the pain that He may minister to you in the pain. Acknowledge that you can do nothing about the loss. You cannot undo it. Your regrets accomplish nothing. Lay the pain and the loss at His feet, and allow Him to minister to you. Allow Him to comfort you. Allow Him to extend His hand to you that you may rise up and get on with your life. There are so many ways in which He wants to bless you.
Copyright © 1994, Alan P. Medinger and Regeneration. All rights reserved. Posted on the web with permission.