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Our Daily Bread — The Ministry of Mourning

Read: Acts 7:54–8:2

Bible in a Year: Proverbs 1–2; 1 Corinthians 16

Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him.—Acts 8:2

In 2002, a few months after my sister Martha and her husband, Jim, died in an accident, a friend invited me to a “Growing Through Grief” workshop at our church. I reluctantly agreed to attend the first session but had no intention of going back. To my surprise, I discovered a caring community of people trying to come to grips with a significant loss in their lives by seeking the help of God and others. It drew me back week after week as I worked toward acceptance and peace through the process of sharing our grief together.

Like the sudden loss of a loved one or friend, the death of Stephen, a dynamic witness for Jesus, brought shock and sorrow to those in the early church (Acts 7:57–60). In the face of persecution, “Godly men buried Stephen and mourned deeply for him” (8:2). These men of faith did two things together: They buried Stephen, an act of finality and loss. And they mourned deeply for him, a shared expression of their sorrow.

As followers of Jesus, we need not mourn our losses alone. In sincerity and love we can reach out to others who are hurting, and in humility we can accept the concern of those who stand beside us.

As we grieve together, we can grow in understanding and in the peace that is ours through Jesus Christ, who knows our deepest sorrow. —David C. McCasland

Father in heaven, help us to “mourn with those who mourn” and grow together in Your healing love.

The ministry of mourning with others helps bring healing to our hearts.

INSIGHT: Stephen was part of a group of men, known to be full of wisdom and the Spirit, selected to work together to meet the needs of others in the church. This text raises some interesting questions. Was Stephen alone in front of the members of the Sanhedrin? Where was the rest of the group? Where were they when he was being stoned?

While those who mourned and buried Stephen had the physical shoulders of others to cry on, Stephen wasn’t alone either—he was comforted and supported by Jesus Himself: “ ‘Look,’ [Stephen] said, ‘I see heaven open and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God’ ” (7:56). Stephen was granted a vision of Jesus at the moment of his greatest need of support.

 

Jesus will never leave us alone and we have the privilege of being Jesus to those around us. Who needs your support today? J.R. Hudberg

 

http://www.odb.org


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