Summary: What is the Bible's guidance when someone's spouse dies? How should they grieve and how should people react around them? Is remarriage acceptable? This sermon deals with those questions

Death, Grief And Remarriage

Genesis 23:1-2

[1]Sarah lived one hundred and twenty-seven years; these were the years of the life of Sarah.

[2] So Sarah died in Kirjath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her.

I enjoy watching mystery programs on television.

Law & Order and Dateline are two of my favorites.

Whenever a murder is committed,

police begin to suspect the husband or wife of the murder victim

if that husband or wife doesn’t show outward signs of grief.

If they don’t see the victim’s spouse crying profusely

and showing signs of deep grief

that person becomes the prime suspect.

I work at a funeral home.

One person asks me how I can stand

to be around all that crying and sorrow.

Actually, I don’t see much of that.

When my Dad and Mom died, I didn’t cry.

I didn’t cry when my wife Pat died

until about a month after her death.

We all handle grief differently.

Some people can hide their grief.

However, every one of us has to deal with grief

at some point in time or the other.

We grieve over the loss of loved ones.

Recovering from the loss of a loved one or family member

is a slow, painful and lengthy process.

Researchers from the Medical College of Virginia, in a study

concluded that the death of a close relative

is the single biggest contributor to depression.

Today’s Bible passage in Genesis chapter 21

is about the death of Abraham’s wife Sarah.

She was his constant companion and longtime wife.

Abraham and Sarah loved each other.

They were very devoted to each other.

However, Sarah died and Abraham was now without his wife

who died of old age.

How did this man of great faith in God feel?

What would life be like without Sarah?

Where would he find the strength to go on?

What could he do to honor her life?

The loss of a loved one is not the end of the world.

What should we do when a loved one passes away?

How should we respond to others in grief?

Point #1. When Your Spouse Dies, Weep Alone Patiently

[1]Sarah lived one hundred and twenty-seven years; these were the years of the life of Sarah. [2] So Sarah died in Kirjath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan, and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her.

Abraham mourned and wept over Sarah’s death.

Weeping is a personal response to grief,

but what is mourning?

In Abraham’s day, it was a tradition to tear your clothes,

beat your breasts and pull out your hair.

The first mourning recorded in the Bible

is Abraham’s mourning over the loss of his wife Sarah.

The Bible tells us how long Abraham mourned,

Genesis 50:10 says at Jacob’s death

his children mourned for 7 days.

Many Christians struggle for the right words

to say to people who are grieving.

The most common words include these:

“I’m sure there is a purpose behind all this”.

“Time will heal all things”

“She’s in a better place now. Her pain and suffering is over”.

The worst advice I’ve heard is,

“Jesus needed her more than you do.”

How someone handles grief is a personal matter.

Let the one who has suffered the loss take the lead.

If he feels like talking, encourage him to talk.

If he prefers to sit in silence,

don’t try to come up with something to say.

A hug or a squeeze of the hand

conveys more than a thousand words.

Weeping is natural, healthy and necessary,

but some people prefer to show grief privately.

Women cry much more often than men.

A survey showed only 4% of women say they don’t cry at all,

but 45% of men say they don’t cry at all.

For those who cry, 85% of women and 73% of men

reported they feel better after crying.

Tears help people who are grieving.

They get back on their feet quicker

and get on with their life faster after a good cry.

Jesus did not hold back his tears on 2 occasions,

once over the death of Lazarus

and another over the city of Jerusalem.

Point #2. When Your Spouse Dies, Get On With Your Life Patiently.

Look again at Genesis chapter 23.

Genesis 23:12-16 Then Abraham bowed himself down before the people of the land; [13] and he spoke to Ephron in the hearing of the people of the land, saying, "If you will give it, please hear me. I will give you money for the field; take it from me and I will bury my dead there." [14] And Ephron answered Abraham, saying to him, [15] "My lord, listen to me; the land is worth four hundred shekels of silver. What is that between you and me? So bury your dead." [16] And Abraham listened to Ephron; and Abraham weighed out the silver for Ephron which he had named in the hearing of the sons of Heth, four hundred shekels of silver, currency of the merchants.

Death of a spouse is the hardest thing to accept and handle.

Living without your lifetime partner is the biggest stress in life.

It is also life’s lowest blow and most difficult adjustment.

How do those who remain here submit to God’s will

when loved ones are gone?

After crying for a while, Abraham got on with his life.

There were things to do, people to see and reasons to live.

The first thing Abraham did

was to buy a piece of property to bury Sarah.

Abraham wanted Sarah to be buried in the Promised Land.

He wanted her buried close to the family,

especially to their son Isaac.

Abraham had to think of Isaac.

Isaac was not married when his mother died.

Abraham had to be strong, available and brave.

He was not the only one who missed Sarah.

Isaac missed his mother terribly.

Point #3. When Your Spouse Dies, It Is Not Wrong To Seek A New Spouse.

When there are children, it can be difficult to remarry.

Some children don’t want to see Dad or Mom with a new spouse.

That’s wrong and that’s being selfish!

Some people don’t do very well living alone.

That’s especially true for a man.

After Sarah died, Abraham knew his son needed someone.

So he arranged for a woman to be brought to him.

That’s how Isaac met and married Rebekah.

Abraham was nowhere near death.

How do I know that?

Look now at Genesis chapter 25.

1 Abraham again took a wife, and her name was Keturah. [2] And she bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah. [3] Jokshan begot Sheba and Dedan. And the sons of Dedan were Asshurim, Letushim, and Leummim. [4] And the sons of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abidah, and Eldaah. All these were the children of Keturah. [5] And Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac. [6] But Abraham gave gifts to the sons of the concubines which Abraham had; and while he was still living he sent them eastward, away from Isaac his son, to the country of the east. [7] This is the sum of the years of Abraham's life which he lived: one hundred and seventy-five years.

Some people think if we are at an old age when our spouse dies

we shouldn’t get married again.

Look at Genesis 24:1

Now Abraham was old, well advanced in age; and the Lord had blessed Abraham in all things.

Abraham was at an old age but he had yet to live to his lifetime

After Isaac was married, Abraham married another woman.

Her name was Keturah.

He started another family, had 6 more sons

and lived to the age of 175.

If children get angry if Dad or Mom decides to get married again

they are selfish and not considering Dad or Mom’s happiness.

Being alone is difficult for those who had a spouse a long time!

Point #4. When Your Spouse Dies, Live The Rest Of Your Life With A Purpose.

The biggest challenge at the loss of a loved one

is to live the remaining life with a purpose.

Abraham wasn’t about to stay in the house

and live the rest of his life alone.

Genesis 23:17-18 says, So the field of Ephron which was in Machpelah, which was before Mamre, the field and the cave which was in it, and all the trees that were in the field, which were within all the surrounding borders, were deeded [18] to Abraham as a possession in the presence of the sons of Heth, before all who went in at the gate of his city.

Abraham bought a cave, the field and all the trees

within the border of the field.

This new property gave Abraham a purpose.

It gave him some work to do in maintaining that land.

Work is a way to calm and control grief.

Work keeps a person’s mind, body and spirit active.

Abraham - at his age, kept looking ahead.

There were still so many good things to do.

Closing:

Psalm 30:5 says, Weeping may endure for a night, But joy comes in the morning.

Some people who lose a spouse show grief with tears

and some don’t.

It doesn’t mean they aren’t grieving!

When you go to comfort a grieving purpose

don’t try to come up with words to speak to them.

Some grieving people like to talk about old memories.

If that’s the case, talk with them.

If you don’t have the right words,

just give them a hug or a firm handshake.

For the grieving spouse, remember that you still have a life to live.

It’s O.K. to remarry.

If you need someone in your life, ask God to send you someone.

If your Dad or Mom needs a new spouse, don’t be selfish!

Try to think about what’s best for him or her.