How do you handle family sorrow?

by Rev. Jack Richards on March 31, 2023


How do you handle family sorrow? 


Ezer and Elead…These two were killed trying to steal livestock from the local farmers near Gath. Their father, Ephraim, mourned for them for a long time, and his relatives came to comfort him. Afterward, Ephraim slept with his wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. Ephraim named him Beriah, because of the tragedy his family had sufferedHe had a daughter named Sheera. She built the towns of Lower and Upper Beth-Horon and Uzzen-Sheerah.   [1 Chronicles 7:21-24 NLT] 


My Father and Mother were happily married for more the 50 years. When I say “happily married “I really mean that. My Mother described their marriage in these words “Every day was a party!” 

Their lives were not without pain and sorrow. When I was five years old, Mom gave birth to my new baby brother who, unfortunately, only lived for a few days. The loss was so hurtful. I well remember the time. What would happen next? My Father and Mother decided to go on. Two years later, God blessed our family with another brother. The sorrow was replaced with joy. 

When my Father went to heaven, my Mother’s life was turned upside down and inside out. The everyday party was over. Now what? For a very long time, she mourned. Then I heard her tell a group of seniors her story. She contemplated life and what the future should hold. Did she want to die or live? God spoke to her. In her own words she said, “I had to decide to go on!” And that she did! For more than 20 years following my Father’s passing, my Mother blessed her three sons and their families with boundless love, fun times and so much more. I am so glad Mom decided to go on. 

Family sorrow wrenches the hearts of so many people. In 1 Chronicles 7:20-29, there is a little, hidden story tucked away in the list of genealogies. It is easily missed if you skip over reading  the long list of names. Ephraim had a large family. Tragedy hit unexpectedly. That can often times be the worst. Ezer and Elead were killed while trying to rustle cattle. Talk about sorrow. Not only was there the loss of family but the shock and disappointment over how it happened.  Ephraim went into deep mourning. Family members surrounded him with comfort. Such  a painful time. However, he and his wife decided to go on. She became pregnant and a son was born. They named him Beriah which means misfortune in the family. He must have proved to be a blessing. Following that new beginning, the family went on to build villages and become very successful in farming. In a male dominated culture, one of Ephraim’s daughters became very skilled and productive in leading the family.  

Here are a few talking points you can learn from this Bible story: 

  1. No family is immune to sorrow. Nobody can escape misfortune, tragedy and death.  
  2. No pain is greater than having to bury your own children. My friend told me how hard it was to bury 3 of his sons. It was not to happen that way. Parents are supposed to watch their children grow, mature, and take care of them in their retirement years. The reverse had taken place. 
  3. Nobody should rush the mourning process. Take your time to allow God to heal you. 
  4. Nobody should face family loss alone. The pain is so real. It can last a long time. Comforting one another means being there to listen and not to lecture. Patience is needed.  
  5. Nothing can turn sorrow into joy like a baby. So often I have noticed this at funerals I have conducted. When a baby enters the mourning area, hope begins to offset sadness. New life brings confidence that the future will become bright again. 
  6. Nothing should keep you from the future. DECIDE TO GO ON. Make music for those you love and surround you. If God has kept you alive, there is a very important reason.  Discover the reason you are alive. It is beyond you. It is for God’s glory.  

Adam and Eve lost their son, Abel, through their other son, Cain, who killed him. Job lost his entire family. David mourned over Absalom, his son, who usurped the throne from him. Rick and Kay Warren lost their son. Greg and Cathe Laurie lost their son. All of them mourned in different ways because of the circumstances.  However, all of them decided to go on. 



Read Psalm 33:18,19 and Psalm 121. 


Heavenly Father, I believe in You. Thank you that the Bible promises that Your eyes are upon me. OPEN MY EYES, LORD so I will see and be continually reminded that You are bigger than the biggest mountain. AMEN!!!  

Tags: family, sorrow, old, testament, chronicles

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