The Loss of A Loved One

 This is a great resource on dealing with sorrow and grief in the Christian life: Facing Grief by John Flavel (d. 1691).  Flavel starts by discussing Luke 7.13: When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, “Don’t cry” (NIV).  He then moves to aspects of sorrow, explaining the biblical way for a Christian to grieve (he mostly speaks about grief over the loss of a loved one). 

One of the first points he makes is that Christians may grieve, of course, but grief should never overcome us: “Christians ought to moderate their sorrows for their dead relations (friends/family), no matter how many afflicting circumstances and aggravations meet together in their death” (p. 10).  It is a deep and cutting sorrow to lose a loved one, but since Jesus defeated death in his resurrection, death’s sorrow should not overwhelm us.  Here are a few more words of wisdom Flavel gives to the mourner.

“Whatever God takes, be still thankful for what he leaves” (p. 23).

“It is well for us and ours that our times are in God’s hand, and not in our own” (p. 56).

“The more impatient you are under this affliction, the more need you had of it” (p. 85).

“If you would not be overwhelmed with trouble for the loss of dear relations, turn to God under your trouble and pour out your sorrows by prayer into his bosom” (p. 117).

If deep sorrow has hit your life, you’ll want to read through this book.  I’m quite certain it will bring out some tears, especially when Flavel talks about losing an infant.  I had to set it down a few times – I wish I had read this several years ago!

By the way, Flavel’s language is a bit archaic, so you have to concentrate while reading, but it is not long (120 small pages), and the benefits are worth the effort.  And, as with many of these Puritan Paperbacks, it is very affordable.  You really should get this one! 

shane lems

4 comments on “The Loss of A Loved One

  1. thepuritans says:

    This is very good Shane. Last year, six days after my father died, I was reading John Flavel and was comforted by some of his writings on balancing our sorrow. I blogged on this as I had to work through it. I don’t think we can experience the health that God grants us through our sorrows if we do not have a right, pious, view on the absolute sovereignty of God. Flavel is such a blessing in this, especially knowing that he had buried three wives. He knew loss and loved God all the more.
    Thank you brother!

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    • Reformed Reader says:

      Thanks for the notes, Brandon. By the way, I was thinking about investing in more of Flavel’s writings. Any suggestions?
      Blessings,
      shane

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  2. Stephen says:

    You’ve convinced me this is a book I’ll want to have nearby. Thanks for the plug on this one.

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  3. thepuritans says:

    Hello Shane! Yes, if I could twist your arm to buy the six volume set of Flavel’s works published by Banner of Truth, I highly recommend them. If however you are wanting to conserve your budget, I know that Banner of Truth does sell these volumes individually through their website, so I would recommend starting with volume 6. Flavel deals with suffering and affliction in this volume and how to prepare for it. His approach is Christ centered and God glorifying. The volumes being published today by Banner of Truth Trust are the same edition published in 1820 which I have links for here (if you want to check them out, scroll down to John Flavel) that I found on the internet archive as these volumes are public domain.
    I hope this helps. God bless!

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