Loved Ones Die
Ever-loving Lord, I renew my dedication to serve You alone. Without this intention, I know that secondary loyalties can take over.
Read GENESIS 23
Sarah lived to be a hundred and twenty-seven years old. 2 She died at Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham went to mourn for Sarah and to weep over her.
3 Then Abraham rose from beside his dead wife and spoke to the Hittites. He said, 4 “I am a foreigner and stranger among you. Sell me some property for a burial site here so I can bury my dead.”
5 The Hittites replied to Abraham, 6 “Sir, listen to us. You are a mighty prince among us. Bury your dead in the choicest of our tombs. None of us will refuse you his tomb for burying your dead.”
7 Then Abraham rose and bowed down before the people of the land, the Hittites. 8 He said to them, “If you are willing to let me bury my dead, then listen to me and intercede with Ephron son of Zohar on my behalf 9 so he will sell me the cave of Machpelah, which belongs to him and is at the end of his field. Ask him to sell it to me for the full price as a burial site among you.”
10 Ephron the Hittite was sitting among his people and he replied to Abraham in the hearing of all the Hittites who had come to the gate of his city. 11 “No, my lord,” he said. “Listen to me; I give you the field, and I give you the cave that is in it. I give it to you in the presence of my people. Bury your dead.”
12 Again Abraham bowed down before the people of the land 13 and he said to Ephron in their hearing, “Listen to me, if you will. I will pay the price of the field. Accept it from me so I can bury my dead there.”
14 Ephron answered Abraham, 15 “Listen to me, my lord; the land is worth four hundred shekels of silver, but what is that between you and me? Bury your dead.”
16 Abraham agreed to Ephron’s terms and weighed out for him the price he had named in the hearing of the Hittites: four hundred shekels of silver, according to the weight current among the merchants.
17 So Ephron’s field in Machpelah near Mamre—both the field and the cave in it, and all the trees within the borders of the field—was deeded 18 to Abraham as his property in the presence of all the Hittites who had come to the gate of the city. 19 Afterward Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave in the field of Machpelah near Mamre (which is at Hebron) in the land of Canaan. 20 So the field and the cave in it were deeded to Abraham by the Hittites as a burial site.
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“He comforts us enough to bring solace now, but leaves enough of a void to make us anticipate the reunion” (Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1906–1945). Such is God’s work in our hearts when we face the loss of a loved one.
God is not mentioned in this passage and it might sometimes seem that God is absent in times of death and mourning. However, God, in his wisdom, has seen that Sarah’s death and Abraham’s mourning are included in the canon of Scripture. Moreover, the literary pace slows down, making us pause at Sarah’s grave while we hear the details of Abraham buying the burial land for her and his dead.
Funerals are important. They offer a time for weeping and mourning. We may rejoice over someone’s life, but we need to grieve the loss. Some have said that death is the last taboo of contemporary Western society; people can speak about anything except death. Since the Bible is not afraid of reporting weeping and mourning that accompany death, however, no one need be afraid of expressing tears and sorrow.
At the same time, those of us who belong to the Lord know that we have a hope beyond death. The River Jordan is often used as a metaphor for death, and I was struck, on visiting it a few years ago, by how shallow and narrow it was where I saw it. I didn’t expect to be able to step over it and, while death is often far from an easy journey, I wondered if I truly understood that Christ has conquered death and one need not fear it so. We live in an “already, but not yet” time because we do not yet see the total fulfillment of what has already been done on the cross. We need to hold in balance, therefore, the fact that death can be a terrible, life-changing wrench (being a Christian doesn’t mean we miss a loved one any less), along with the fact that we look forward to a day when there will be no more death or tears.
Pray for someone who is grieving and perhaps send them an email, text or a card to tell them that you are thinking of them.
God of life and death, thank You for faith and hope in the face of loss. But day by day can be a struggle without loved ones. I reach out to You, the Resurrection and the Life, to get me through.
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