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Mourning the Dead (Genesis 23)

June 19, 2020 | by: Gregg Hunter | 0 comments

Posted in: The Life of Abraham

Yesterday, we looked at the death of Sarah. Today, let’s look at how Abraham mourns the death of his wife.


Please read Genesis 23:1-20. 

I find it interesting that so many people always want to help when there is a funeral. Many churches offer meal services for the mourning family. Some people offer to pay for or contribute to the paying of funeral expenses. Some even offer to help with funeral plans, reception logistics, and more. People want to help in any way they can, and there's nothing wrong with that.

But, usually those closest to the deceased want to work as they mourn. You see this often in movies where people want to dig the grave by hand or shovel in order to honor the dead. You see this in modern-day funeral preparations where people will stay up all night putting together a collage or a slide show of pictures to display at viewings. I remember going through boxes of pictures with my siblings when my mother died: not because we needed more pictures, but because we needed something to do, something that would make us feel productive during a time where we felt so lost.

Abraham was being offered whatever he asked by neighbors who genuinely cared about him. He had built up a strong reputation in the land, and his neighbors wanted to help in any way they could when he lost his wife. They didn't want to take advantage of Abraham during this time; they were trying to give him the land as a gesture of friendship. But Abraham insisted that he had to pay for the land—he had to make some sacrifice; some gesture in honor of his deceased wife.

This is human nature. It is human nature to want to help those in need, and it is human nature to want to work to honor your loved ones when they are gone. There is nothing wrong with any of this. But it would have been a much shorter chapter had Abraham’s neighbors simply realized that the best way to help Abraham would be to simply let him pay for what he wanted.

The best thing we can do for our friends when they are mourning is to listen to them. The best way we can help is by letting them make whatever sacrifice they want to make. Like Job’s friends, we make the best counselors when we simply sit silently next to them as they grieve.

We are at a time in our society today, where many people are mourning. God says "blessed are the peacemakers," and as Christians we often think this means we need to jump in and make peace between two sides who are both hurt and hurting each other. But sometimes the best thing that we can do is simply let people grieve. Let people mourn. Let them honor those who have passed in whatever way seems fit to them. And, when they are ready, they will reach out for help.