Being in a Constant State of Mourning
A Sermon Delivered at the
Compassionate Internet Church
18 May 2008
Frank L. Hoffman, Pastor
Why on earth would I ever entitle a sermon “being in a constant state of mourning?”
Anyone who has ever been in mourning knows that it is not pleasant.
Our hearts and souls ache, we have this horribly empty feeling inside, and it is often difficult to function in our everyday activities.
We often feel helpless.
Our sorrow can be overwhelming, and we want it to end.
We want our loved one back!
However, in Matthew 5:4 Jesus says,
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”
Why would Jesus say this?
It seems to be the opposite of the way we feel.
Sure, if we lose a beloved human family member or friend, others will try to comfort us; but if we lose a beloved companion animal, the opposite can be true, and we could even find ourselves being mocked.
And for those of us who mourn the suffering of the whole of creation, it is even worse, and many of these mourners feel very much alone.
It is also here that we begin to understand what Jesus was talking about.
Let’s take a look at Romans 8:18-23, and see how Paul addresses this state of mourning.
18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
19 For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons [children] of God.
20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not of its own will, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope
21 that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God.
22 For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.
23 And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons [children], the redemption of our body.
Loving parents feel the suffering of their children, and they want it to end.
So, if we really look into what Paul is saying, we come to understand that God, the Father of creation, must also be mourning the suffering of His beautiful creation.
And along with His creation, He is anxiously awaiting the revealing of these children of God who are going to free His creation from its present corruption.
God gave His creation to us humans to care for it, but we corrupted it, and God has given us the ability, and perhaps even the power, to redeem creation.
Since the whole of creation has been suffering for thousands of years, then the children of God who are struggling to end the suffering and corruption, along with God, must be in a constant state of mourning.
We want the suffering, death and destruction to end, but it continues to go on and on, and we continue to mourn.
This mourning and grief takes on five stages: denial and isolation, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance; and we often find ourselves in all five stages at the same time.
When a beloved human or companion animal dies, these stages of grief and mourning are fairly sequential; but when we look at all the horror going on in the world day after day, everything gets rolled into one.
We see the seemingly constant wars and terrorism, we see the billions of animals tortured and killed every year for human lusts, and we see this beautiful world being destroyed,
We want to run away and hide from the atrocities, and we often feel very much alone, which is the reason that we need to stay in contact with other like-minded people, so that we can comfort and support one another, and help us realize that we’re not alone in our struggle to end all the senseless suffering.
We often find ourselves getting angry: angry with the people who cause all the suffering and destruction, and angry with God for not putting an end to all the suffering once and for all; but we need to remember that God also gets angry in His grief, as we are told in Genesis 6:5-8 –
5 Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
6 And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.
7 And the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.”
8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.
God is the only one who has the right to “blot out” humans and animals; humans do not have that right; but even God repented of this act when He realized it didn’t solve the problem.
Note what we are told in Genesis 8:21-22:
21 …“I will never again curse the ground on account of man, for the intent of man's heart is evil from his youth; and I will never again destroy every living thing, as I have done.
22 “While the earth remains,
Seedtime and harvest,
And cold and heat,
And summer and winter,
And day and night
Shall not cease.”
When God saw that even righteous Noah went astray and sacrificed some of the animals on the ark when the Flood was over (Genesis 8:20), He accepted the fact that humans are evil, and that violence and destruction will never end the suffering.
This is an important fact that we need to learn in our own grief and mourning, as we strive to make this a kinder and gentler world.
The suffering will only end when human hearts and souls are softened, and when true and unlimited empathy guides our way.
So God decided on taking another pathway to lead humans back to His peaceable kingdom: He would select certain obedient people to be His witnesses to the world, to expose the ungodly horrors, and to encourage the people to change.
But the world wouldn’t accept His prophets, and often killed them; so He decided to send His only begotten Son to lead the people back, but their hardness of heart killed Jesus, too.
But one of the most important lessons we can ever learn is expressed in the final words of Jesus upon the cross (Luke 23:34):
34 "Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”
This is unconditional love!
This is the only kind of love and compassion that can ever end the pain and suffering.
We cannot wholly love God, if we hate any part of his creation, which includes the people who cause all the pain and suffering.
Along with mourning the suffering ones of this world, we need to mourn the hardness of heart that causes all the suffering.
We who are ethical vegans need to come to the realization that we can never end the suffering in this world unless and until we end the hardness of heart that causes it.
Yelling and screaming at these people, or threatening them, will not soften their hearts; it will only further harden them.
We need to lovingly and peacefully show them the errors of their ways, and the suffering they are causing directly or indirectly by their acquiescence.
We need to show them all the gory details of the suffering they are causing.
We need to expose them to the same kinds of things that led us to become the vegan peacemaking children of God.
Because this is the only way we are going to permanently end our own constant state of mourning, and end the violence and destruction on this earth.
This is our calling, and in this calling and hope we are blessed and comforted.
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