George Mylne, 1871
Bereavement! What a word it is — a word of many-headed woes! A word telling . . .
of families made desolate;
of wounded hearts;
of weeping eyes;
of closest bonds abruptly torn asunder;
of social fellowship extinguished;
of life's fondest hopes destroyed;
of earth becoming one large graveyard.
There is no domestic bliss secure against deaths inroads. There is no promise of long companionship so flattering, but in a moment the dream may vanish, and nothing be left but the hard reality of woe.
Bereavement! Yes, it is a word of anguish. It says
. . .
that hearts are broken,
that the iron enters into the very soul;
that the axe is laid at the root of life's romance;
that the sky of former joys is clouded over with the mantle of distress.
How many tales of sorrow does bereavement tell!
Yet, it is a word fraught with importance to the soul; a word, for purposes
of good, framed in the vocabulary of Heaven, God's mind and will impressed
upon it. Bereavement is . . .
the exponent of God's judgments;
the expression of His love in chastening;
the verbal embodiment of His good pleasure.
Bereavement is His voice in action; speaking in facts; preaching in visitations; the Lord himself walking abroad in His realities.
Bereavement speaks of Death. This is the head and substance of its teaching. It tells how "Sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" (Romans 5:12).
It is not only a solemn word — but also a searching word — a word speaking its volumes to all who hear it! Moreover, it is a special word to you. It says, "Be still, and know that I am God" (Psalm 46:10). It says, "Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" (Genesis 18:25). Who may say to him, "What are you doing?" (Ecclesiastes 8:4). Then, why are you struck dumb, as though God dealt strangely with you? Was He bound to grant your friend a lease of life — to leave the family bond unbroken, as long as it suited you — or to give you warning of what He meant to do? Must the tide of death be stayed, that it should not rob you of your cherished one?
Ah no! We are brought through sin into harsh contact with confounding providences; yes, face to face with sudden painful visitations! How often are we made to "drink the wine of astonishment," by the stern realities of a fallen world — nature diverted from its normal course by sinful contrarieties, calling for exceptional and sharp strokes — bereavement suddenly coming to wound the circle of our satisfactions!
This is the method that the Lord adopts to arrest our notice; to bring to mind, that there is a God who rules in Heaven and earth — a truth too often overlooked. It is as though He said, "Mourner, are you prepared to die? Prepared to balance your final account with Me? Are you ready — if I should send for you next?" And thus He brings before us all the realities of an unseen world — the facts of death, of judgment, and eternity!
Then, is there not mercy in bereavement — mercy, not in disguise, but manifest — not silent, but speaking plainly? Is it not mercy to be led to see our sins — and to see our need of Jesus, and His precious Blood — and through grace, to be at peace with God through Jesus? Thus God has ordered it, that joy and sorrow should be linked together in His providential visitations. And thus "the valley of Achor" (in other words, the valley of trouble) is made "a door of hope." And thus "vineyards" are filled with fruits of peace. And thus mourners are made to "sing as in the days" of youth, from blessings found where least expected.
So wondrous are God's dealings with a fallen world. No sorrow but has its mate — its appropriate and true consolation — the very grief leading to consequences, if rightly followed out, involving peace — solid, well-grounded peace.
Afflicted friend, I hope you know the secret. If not, may God reveal it to you. Receive, I beg you, this word of exhortation, kindly intended, and, I trust, not heedlessly expressed. May you be comforted, not with earth's flimsy consolations, but with the solid verities of Heaven. Accept the following pages which now I dedicate to your perusal. And if therein you find anything suited to your need — then give God the glory. And may your sore affliction of bereavement be duly sanctified, and gilded with His grace.