Trusting God in Loss
Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in their death they were not divided: they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions. 2 Samuel 1:23
suggested further reading: Genesis 23
David shows here that his love for Jonathan was very remarkable, for he experienced great distress over his death. It is true that David’s expression of emotion was too vehement. It was not right for him to sink as he did into the depths of sorrow. Although his emotion was not perfect, the basis of it was good.
Let us note that the children of God are not insensitive. They are saddened by the death of their neighbors and friends, and they feel even more regret, bitterness, and pain over the loss of those whom God has bound very closely to them. This kind of loss will happen to the children of God, but the point is that we must control our feelings and hold them captive to God.
When we are told to patiently accept the death of our relatives and friends, that does not mean we should not feel the loss or that we must respond like blocks of wood, for God does not take away our natural feelings. But even as we are sad, we must not fail to continually bless God’s name and accept his will as not only just and right but also as good and salutary for us. We are to willingly accept what he sends us, so that on the one hand we are sad, but on the other hand we do not fail to bless God deliberately and of our own accord and not because of external constraint.
When at last we calm down after having lost control of our emotions, we can greatly sweeten our sadness by remembering that nothing can hinder us from going to God. That is what we must keep in mind.
for meditation: Calvin has been called a theologian of moderation, always balancing the concerns of this life in the light of eternity to come. Here he exemplifies this talent in the matter of sorrowing over loved ones. An excellent example of this can be found in Abraham, who grieved deeply over the loss of his dear Sarah, yet pressed on with the Lord’s work and agenda (Gen. 23:1–4; 24:1–4). When you have lost loved ones, or have faced some great personal trial, did you moderate your sorrow by contemplating the great joys that await you in the fast-approaching eternity of glory?