Focal Passage: Ezekiel 24:15-27
Death. Sickness. Loss. Tragedy. At some point the reality of living in a fallen world will affect us all. And, we will all experience grief when it does. Some think that expressions of grief are not consistent with the gospel, so they suppress their grief. While others grieve as if the gospel were not true, often becoming angry with God or living without hope. Our grief should drive us to God for comfort.
In many ways Ezekiel was asked to live out (or act out) illustrations of what God’s judgment on Israel meant. In Ezekiel 24 God calls the prophet to endure the unthinkable: “Son of man, I am about to take the delight of your eyes away from you with a fatal blow” (Ezekiel 24:16). His wife was going to die. Even worse, God commands him not to publicly mourn. As hard as it may be to understand, the death of Ezekiel’s wife is analogous to the loss of the nation.
At the same time, Ezekiel is human and he dearly loved his wife. So even in the midst of being a living illustration of judgment, God has mercy. He tells Ezekiel to “groan quietly,” that is, to grieve in private. That is a great reminder for us that grief is a normal emotional reaction to tragedy.
In Ezekiel 24:15-18 we are encouraged to listen for God’s guidance in the midst of tragedy. We see that pointedly in Ezekiel’s need to receive guidance from the Lord on how to grieve the loss of his wife. Even in grief we need to listen for God’s voice of comfort and guidance.
Tragedy also affords us the opportunity to get to know God better. When the people see Ezekiel’s reaction to his wife’s death, they want to know more. When God’s people respond to suffering and tragedy in a way that honors God, it invites others to ask why we are reacting the way we are. Finally, Ezekiel is reminded that even in the midst of tremendous suffering, God is in control. He is working in and behind events to bring Himself glory and to draw His people close to Himself. As you face tragedy, do so in a way that will honor God and possibly open the door to share with others why you can grieve with hope.