The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34:18
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. Matthew 5:4
In reworking and bringing this series back for a few weeks, I wanted to add one extra week for a topic left untouched last time I shared Letters To The Hurting. It would seem that this week’s blog has some overlap with other weeks. Certainly it does to a great extent. But as I look at the world around me, I realize there are specific hurts people are dealing with. Hurts stemming from a place of grief. Grief can take many forms. Obviously when we lose a loved one, that brings grief. But it can also come from other types of loss: loss of a relationship, a job, even a sense of purpose that leaves it hard to move forward.
Grief affects all of us differently and can be more or less intense depending upon the situation. My 96 year old grandma passed this year and grief caught me a bit off guard during the recent days and weeks after she died. I knew she was in Heaven. I knew her life was long and fulfilled. But it was still hard and is hard to walk through. A lot of it is selfish: the source of her constant strength and encouragement is no longer as readily available to me as it once was. Even in that, I remind myself of her words and go back to the many ways she pointed me to the Lord when I needed some truth to hold onto. I’m grateful for my grandma, but I even as I type this I realize, “I miss her very much!” Grief can touch us in some deep ways.
Today I want to take what can be a very emotional topic and look at things as objectively as possible through the lens of Scripture. I know many are hurting and emotions can be a wave we ride up and down upon. I do not wish to lessen any of what you are going through or just “offer advice.” If I could, I would sit down with you, grab a cup of coffee, and just listen. That might be the most helpful thing we can offer as Christians to those who mourn. Still, I would want you to understand these points and know that even in the midst of your hurt, Christ is King and He has defeated sin and the grave. What an amazing truth even as we face loss in this life. Let’s get started!
1. Christ walks with us in our grief
He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Isaiah 53:3
We know Christ as the conquering King as mentioned. That is a powerful image to recognize in our seasons of hurt and loss. But we must also see Jesus as the suffering Savior; the one acquainted with grief. One of the most poignant verses about this is simply John 11:35: Jesus wept (the shortest verse in Scripture). The context of this verse is the death of Lazarus, Jesus’ close friend. It can be said that in this story, Jesus felt the full weight of emotion as a person who suffers loss. He was like us in every way, yet still God and still Divine.
In seeing Christ in this context, we realize that even in our grief He is there. There is no pit too deep that we can be in where His presence does not go. If we were to grieve alone and apart from Him, then we would have no hope. But we can have hope because He holds us. He wraps us in His love and we can know that His heart hurts just as much as ours. Our pain is His pain. And He we will walk with us on the road (and carry us if necessary!).
2. Grief can coexist with hope
Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 1 Thessalonians 4:13
Just last month I shared a series of blogs entitled The Blessed Hope. In that series I talked about Christ’s return and the aspect of readiness we must have as we wait. As I started to think about today’s topic, I was reminded that even in our grieving, we have hope. The fact that sorrow, pain, and loss exist should point us to the reality that nothing on this side of eternity is perfect. Since the fall it never has been and never will be. But because of Christ, we can look even at grief and have a sense of hope beyond this life. Grief should not have the final word. Because it will not exist in Heaven.
I believe this is why the world struggles so much with death. It cannot really articulate an answer for grief because it has no hope. Apart from Jesus there is no hope. Death is certain. Without hope, we view death as something to be feared and avoided at all costs. Hence we have had almost 2 years now of everyone telling us we need to be afraid. But what fear is there in knowing that we will be with Jesus when we die? What grief remains in the light of His coming? If we can look past our grief and see hope, we are given strength from the Lord to carry on. It is a supernatural strength (not within ourselves) that fills us and allows us to stand firm.
3. Your grief can be redeemed
Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. Hebrews 9:27,28
It might be hard to think this way, but I believe it is important: the grief we walk through can be a testimony for others. In any loss, there is the opportunity to either turn inward and allow bitterness to set in or to look upward. Nothing in this point denies or somehow tries to lessen grief. It is a natural emotion. Jesus felt it. We should feel it too and see it as appropriate. But as we walk through the stages of grief, there is a point at which our hands should extend outward to others.
I know this question is hard to fathom at times: “God how can you use this loss for Your good?” But I do not believe we go through anything without having the opportunity for God to use it. What if the loss you have experienced is the same thing someone else is trying to process? Perhaps your story can be used to help keep them going; to tell them the place where you found hope. That in Christ, there is an ability to face each new day. We all need to hear those stories at various times. We all need to see evidence because it gives us a sense of hope in our loss. Even to bear witness to Christ in the midst of your pain becomes such a powerful word. It may be the saving truth someone else will cling to.
Guys I can’t imagine the hurt some have wrestled with and are still dealing with in recent months and years. In this pandemic, there have been so many stories of tragedy. The casualties have extended beyond just the illness: suicides, broken homes, loss of employment, other illnesses…the list goes on and on. We know the world is in a constant state of hurt. When we lived apart from Christ, we knew that feeling of hopelessness and the sense that healing is something far off and unavailable.
But if we look at today’s letter and all the letters from this series, we know that in Christ there is hope beyond any hardship. The world is looking for real testimonies right now that speak of something unshakable. People we are surrounded by on a daily basis desire something of substance, something that is bigger than themselves. Like I’ve mentioned in each of these blogs, we must go to the feet of Jesus. And we take others to that place as well. It is in His presence that our burdens can be laid down. It is there that the captive can be set free. Dear hurting one, today I hope you know He loves you and stands with open arms ready to receive you. Let’s go boldly before Him and believe He will move mightily in our lives!
I love you guys and can’t wait for next time! Have a blessed day.
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Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Ephesians 5:15-17