Chrysostom and Grief (2)

A life was snatched, prematurely according to men, and grief will ensue. No one has the words to bring comfort, nor peace, nor a still of the storm for the family of the child that is no longer with us. The pastor must stand and give comfort where he can, and I do not envy him – nor do I wish to be in his place. I can doing nothing for this family – although I wish I had those magic words to erase all grief, but I cannot. I know that those in the local congregation read this blog, and because of this, I will post the words of a master in dealing with grief – John Chrysostom. Maybe they will bring them some measure of comfort. In the end, perhaps, Chrysostom’s words are for me.

3. Now if it is not the name of widow which distresses you, but the loss of such a husband I grant you that all the world over among men engaged in secular affairs there have been few like him, so affectionate, so gentle, so humble, so sincere, so understanding, so devout. And certainly if he had altogether perished, and utterly ceased to be, it would be right to be distressed, and sorrowful; but if he has only sailed into the tranquil haven, and taken his journey to Him who is really his king, one ought not to mourn but to rejoice on these accounts. For this death is not death, but only a kind of emigration and translation from the worse to the better, from earth toheaven, from men to angels, and archangels, and Him who is the Lord of angels and archangels. For here on earth while he was serving the emperor there were dangers to be expected and many plots arising frommen who bore ill-will, for in proportion as his reputation increased did the designs also of enemies abound; but now that he has departed to the other world none of these things can be suspected.

Wherefore in proportion as you grieve thatGod has taken away one who was so good and worthy you ought to rejoice that he has departed in much safety and honour, and being released from the trouble which besets this present season of danger, is in great peace and tranquillity. For is it not out of place to acknowledge thatheaven is far better than earth, and yet to mourn those who are translated from this world to the other? For if that blessed husband of yours had been one of those who lived a shameful life contrary to what God approved it would have been right to bewail and lament for him not only when he had departed, but while he was still living; but inasmuch as he was one of those who are the friends ofGod we should take pleasure in him not only while living, but also when he has been laid to rest. And that we ought to act thus you have surely heard the words of the blessed Paul “to depart and to be with Christ which is far better.” Philippians 1:33

But perhaps you long to hear your husband’s words, and enjoy the affection which you bestowed upon him, and you yearn for his society, and the glory which you had on his account, and the splendour, and honour, and security, and all these things being gone distress and darken your life. Well! The affection which you be stowed on him you can keep now just as you formerly did.

For such is the power of love, it embraces, and unites, and fastens together not only those who are present, and near, and visible but also those who are far distant; and neither length oftime, nor separation in space, nor anything else of that kind can break up and sunder in pieces the affection of the soul.

For this body, even if it reaches a very high standard of beauty is nevertheless perishable; but the bodies of those who have been well pleasing to God, will be invested with such glory as these eyes cannot even look upon. And God has furnished us with certain tokens, and obscure indications of these things both in the Old and in the New Dispensation. For in the former the face of Moses shone with such glory as to be intolerable to the eyes of the Israelites, and in the New the face of Christ shone far more brilliantly than his. For tell me if any one had promised to make your husband king of all the earth, and then had commanded you to withdraw for twenty years on his account, and had promised after that to restore him to you with the diadem and the purple, and to place you again in the same rank with him, would you not have meekly endured the separation with due self-control? Would you not have been well pleased with thegift, and deemed it a thing worth praying for?

Well then submit to this now, not for the sake of a kingdom on earth, but of a kingdom in Heaven; not to receive him back clad in a vesture of gold but robed in immortality and glory such as is fitting for them to have who dwell in Heaven. And if you find the trial very unbearable owing to its long duration, it may be that he will visit you by means of visions and converse with you as he was wont to do, and show you the face for which you yearn: let this be your consolation taking the place of letters, though indeed it is far more definite than letters. For in the latter case there are but lines traced with the pen to look upon, but in the former you see theform of his visage, and his gentle smile, his figure and his movements, you hear his speech and recognize the voice which you loved so well.

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