posted on: Aug 14, 2013
Embrace Grieving and Loss
In emotionally and spiritually healthy churches, people embrace grief as a way to become more like God.
We need to understand what a critical component of discipleship grieving our losses is. It’s the only pathway to becoming a compassionate person like our Lord Jesus.
I think it’s easy for us as Christians to misuse the Bible when it comes to dealing with loss and grieving.
We quickly go to Philippians 4:4 and say, REJOICE IN THE LORD ALWAYS, AGAIN I SAY REJOICE! Or 1 Thessalonians 5:18, GIVE THANKS IN ALL CIRCUMSTANCES.
Or, everyone’s favorite, Romans 8:28, GOD WORKS ALL THINGS FOR THE GOOD!
By doing this we miss that fact that we are created in the image of God who reveals to us at certain times that he grieves and experience loss.
In Genesis we’re told that humanity had gotten so bad that God was grieved that he even created them.
We’re told that the Israelites would have corporate times of lament that included sackcloth and ashes and wailing and crying. They would tear their clothes.
Jeremiah wrote an entire book called Lamentations.
Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4 tells us there is a time for everything, even a time to mourn.
Hebrews 5:7 says that Jesus offered up prayers with loud cries and tears.
Then there’s the Psalms. More than half of the 150 Psalms are classified as laments. Most of them were written by David, a man after God’s own heart.
There were times where David would call the nation of Israel to mourn.
Why should we though?
Pete Scazzero writes, “The degree to which I learn to grieve my own losses is in direct proportion to the depth and quality of my relationship with God and the compassion I can offer others.”
When we are confronted with loss, we need to deal with it because it’s an opportunity for God to enlarge our souls and mature us. WE CAN’T JUST SEEK A QUICK END TO THE PAIN.
We must be aware of what superficial forgiveness looks like.
Forgiveness is not a quick process. I don’t think we can truly forgive someone until we first allow ourselves to feel the pain of what was lost.
Jesus, once again, is our best example of this:
On the cross he didn’t say, hey they tried their best, they couldn’t help it.
He is not detached and void of emotions. He truly felt our rebellion against him, he truly felt our unwillingness to receive him as He hung lonely on the cross and cries “FATHER, FORGIVE THEM, FOR THEY DO NOT KNOW WHAT THEY ARE DOING!
This is actually true forgiveness. True forgiveness is never watering down the loss or the offense to make it more palatable. Our temptation is to minimize the offense with excuses.
“They didn’t mean to say that.” “They had too much to drink.” “He only hits me because he’s so stressed at work.”
Here’s a warning! When we feel offense, sinned against, or an injustice against us, we are in danger of committing reckless sins. We don’t know what else to do so we try to escape the pain of the moment. We need to learn to grieve, to feel the pain of it, to process it, and to forgive well.
So let’s look at three phases of healthy grieving…
1. Pay Attention to the Grieving Process
We’ll look at David from the Bible to see some healthy grieving…
David was anointed by Samuel to be king of Israel, but he didn’t take the actually throne until after Saul, the first king of Israel died in battle, it was years and years later.
David was very respectful of Saul even though Saul had lost his way and in the end was trying to kill David. David was also great friends with Jonathon, Saul’s son… they had a mutual love for God and for truth.
When Saul and Jonathan were killed in battle against the Philistines… David didn’t rejoice, it’s my turn to be king.
He lamented. He wrote a song, a detailed song about the horror of their death. He directs a portion of the song to Jonathan, he says, “I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother.”
David then orders the people to join in with him in singing the song. “Oh daughters of Israel, weep for Saul.” He leads people into paying attention to what has actually taken place.
He wouldn’t allow them to say, the king is dead, All Hail King David!
He actually ordered thousands of men to memorize the song.
See he understood how important grieving is to spiritual maturity.
DAVID KNOWS WE ARE DEEPENED BY TAKING THE TIME TO GRIEVE OUR LOSSES BEFORE MOVING ON.
If you’re wondering what the Bible has to say about life being down right hard at times, read the Psalms.
If we don’t pay attention to the pain and the grief we can fall to the temptation of medicating ourselves. We get addicted to things like work, TV, drugs, alcohol, shopping, food, busyness, sex, porn, co-dependencies.
Here’s where all this leads to: SUPERFICIALITY and A LACK OF PROFOUND COMPASSION.
Pay attention to the grieving process.
2. Waiting in the Confusing In-Between
The Confusing In-Between is like being disoriented. Trying to find which way is up, trying to see God’s hand in the midst of a mess.
This is a season to recognize and to wait in.
One really helpful thing to do is to write your own Psalm. (SEE ATTACHMENT)
As we disciple people it’s important that we listen well. Ask them about their stories. What were some of the hard things, the tragic things in their lives? Then listen to whether or not they properly grieved them or if they just swept them under the rug.
If they just swept them under the rug, they could live a life of disorientation; not knowing where God is or was in their moment of need.
3. Allowing the Old to Birth the New
Matthew 5:4 says, Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
Here are some of the results of dealing in a healthy way with Grief.
1. We have a greater capacity to wait on God and surrender to his will. To be okay in the mystery. Grieving breaks something in us, it breaks our fearful self-will that wants to run the universe.
2. We are more compassionate to others. Sadness softens our defenses, people find us safer.
Henri Nouwen said, The degree to which we grieve our losses is the degree to which we are compassionate.
By properly dealing with our own grief we are able to enter into other peoples pain.
3. We are less covetous and idolatrous. Life is stripped of it’s nonessentials.
4. We are liberated from having to impress others.
5. We are able to live more comfortably with mystery. We are not afraid to say “I don’t know”.
6. We are characterized by a greater humility and brokenness.
7. We have fewer fears and greater willingness to take risks.
8. We sense the reality of heaven in a new way, understanding more fully that we are only aliens and sojourners on the earth.
9. We have a great sensitivity to the poor, the widow, the orphan, the marginalized, and the wounded. We understand them.
10. We are more at home with ourselves and with God.
Share with others!