I find S. Lewis Johnson to be one of the great modern expositors of the Bible. In his exposition of Hosea 10, “Dangers of a divided heart” he says:
“You know, we are living in a day that is very strange. We are living in a day in which individuals are very much interested in the body. Isn’t it interesting? The world and the Western world and the United States is tremendously interested in their bodies. Now that’s a legitimate interest provided it’s kept in perspective. It’s important to pay attention to what you eat. It’s important to pay attention to exercise. It’s important to take care of yourself. We all grant that. But when our body becomes our supreme concern at the expense of our soul and spirit, then we are in tremendous danger. I think it’s amazing. The jogging craze. You can hardly drive your car. You have to watch for the people who are running on the side of the road. Nothing wrong with that. I hope I don’t ever hit one of them. But you do have to watch. There are so many people who seem to be jogging.”
“Dr. Pentecost liked to say, “jiggling” instead of “jogging.” [Laughter] But anyway, jogging. We are tremendously interested in our body. We have all kinds of incentives to it. Our newspapers are filled with exhortations to take care of your body. Well, I won’t say anything more about that. I think you understand what it is we’re talking about. There is of course another part of our being, and that’s our mind. And there are a few people interested in their minds. Not enough. But there are a few people who are interested in their minds, and some are interested in their minds perhaps a little too much. But what is more important? Our body? Our mind? What’s the most important thing? It is not our spirits? Is it not that which is the key to the eternal? Continuation of life in the truest and fullest sense?”
“Would it not be the part of wisdom to devote all of our energy to seeing that our spirits are healthy? How wrong can we be in our priorities when we are so interested in our body that we neglect our spirit? I think, if you were to look truly at the United States of America, that men in our country spend far more attention on their bodies than they do on their spirits. In fact, their spirit is largely neglected. They do not really spend much time on their spirit at all. And yet, the prophet writes, “Break up your fallow ground.” You know, there’s an interesting thing about this. If you don’t break up your fallow ground, it’s not a question of surviving in a neutral state as long as you neglect to do what is necessary, someone else will see that the hardness of the ground increases and weeds become thicker and thicker because Satan is very active. “Break up your fallow ground because it is time to seek the Lord,” so the prophet says. What’s the time? Well, of course, all the time, but most of all when you’re young. Then, when the mind and the spirit seem to be more tender to the things of the Lord God.”
How does the above apply to suffering, specifically grieving the loss of a loved one. I wrote about this in my previous post “Comforting the bereaved Christian: No Bible texts.” Alistair Begg’s series on grieving is very useful. Unlike my full frontal attack in “Comforting the bereaved,” Begg takes you step by step through your grief. Having said that, it won’t mean anything to you if you do not trust in Jesus Christ. You might retort, “Then I won’t bother.” On the other hand, you might think “I’m not a Christian, but let me give it a try.” Here’s the thing; if you did think the latter, then it’s because the Father has drawn you – through his grace, his mercy.
“A great disservice has been done to the cause of Christ by those who have tended to suggest that Christianity is all brightness and laughter. Such a perspective is neither true to the biblical record, nor to the human experience. The joy of which the Bible speaks is not found in isolation from the rigors of life. James encourages us to “count it all joy” when we face trials of various kinds. The studies contained in this album make it very clear that Christians grieve, too. They, also, seek to provide a biblical framework for dealing with affliction, trial, and disappointment. Underpinning it all is the doctrine of God’s providence, which affords the believer the opportunity to rest in the awareness that our times are in His hands. This album may well prove to be a great help to friends and neighbors who are trying to make sense of some of life’s storms.”