50 Joseph threw himself on his father and wept over him and kissed him. 2 Then Joseph directed the physicians in his service to embalm his father Israel. So the physicians embalmed him, 3 taking a full forty days, for that was the time required for embalming. And the Egyptians mourned for him seventy days.
Who can not be moved by this scene? Although things turned around massively for Joseph in later years, because of the sins of others he lost years of life with his father. He’d had him ‘back’ for a relatively short time when he had to let him go again. There was no doubt a difference between the formal mourning of the Egyptians, and Joseph’s personal grief.
The Bible is an emotional book. Feelings (all kinds of feelings) are expressed freely throughout its pages. Our Lord Jesus, we are told:
“During the days of (his) life on earth…offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death…” (Hebrews 5:7).
The Anglican poet and pastor, John Keble, called tears “the best gift of God to suffering man.” Tears
can be cathartic. They can bring release and a form of healing. The Bible does not ask us to stuff down genuine grief. It hurts when we lose those we love. No-one can ever understand this heartache until they face it. So don’t be too quick to pour out your ‘wise counsel’ on the bereaved if you’ve not walked that way. Grieving people often have to endure (in addition to their grief) the well-intentioned, but hurtful platitudes and cliches of those who have no idea. We must learn to walk lovingly, kindly and gently with those going through this deep, dark valley
The Bible does not say that Christians don’t grieve, but it does imply that the “hope” we have in some way transforms the grief (1 Thessalonians 4:13ff).
‘…when old people die, those who love them feel the loss deeply. The longer you have someone in your life that you really love, the deeper the roots go into your heart and the more wrenching is the experience of having those roots pulled up.’ Warren W.Wiersbe: ‘Old Testament Commentary’, p.140.