Grief is Part of the Human Experience

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1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 does this mean we should not allow ourselves to be sad when faced with the loss of a friend, comrade and brother?
We know they have a future. We know they will be resurrected. We know we will see them again. Why are we still sad? Is our sadness a weakness of faith… a pull of doubt against our confidence?

What is Grief?

Grief can be hard to explain. It’s a powerful emotion – often it’s a set of emotions which can be simultaneous and conflicting. We may experience feelings of relief and great sadness at the same time.
For example: In the case of someone who has passed away only after a long stretch of sickness or pain… we may feel relief that they will no longer have to suffer. At the same time we are sad because the inevitability of death has confronted us in an undeniable way.
Familiar patterns, behaviors, interactions we have grown accustomed to will no longer be possible. We are left to adapt with a new reality. The world we have known will now never be the same. We feel loss knowing that we will never again be able to reach out for that person who has always been there before.
Grief can be our reaction to other events, a friend moves away, or we find ourselves an empty nester. More negative situations include divorce, loss of a job… and then there is death.

Grief is Part of the Human Experience

God’s people grieve just like all people. We have records in scripture of the grief experienced by people like: Job, Naomi, Hannah, David who experienced great loss and sadness. We also have record of Jesus weeping in grief for Lazarus His friend.
John 11:32-38 Jesus was moved by their grief but also by the fact of Lazarus’ death. He knew He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. He had perfect faith that the Father would answer His prayer for Lazarus to be restored to life. He could have simply said “have no fear” but instead He shared in the grief of the situation.
Hebrews 4:15This is an example of how Jesus is a high priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses.
Grief, weeping and sorrow is natural and normal. Its not a demonstration of any lack of faith. We do not want to be overcome by our grief as if we had no hope.

Grief Serves a Purpose

Ecclesiastes 7:2 grief can refresh and inform our understanding and perspective on our life. While we do not want to be obsessed with a fear of death we should use it as an occasion to remember that our own days are numbered and finite. Grieving over death is a time for us to ask “what am I doing with the days of life that I have left”?
Psalm 30:5 grief and sadness serve a purpose. But grief also has its limits and it will come to and end. We do not forget those who have died but in time we adjust to our new reality.

God is Beside Us in Our Grief

God is our master, our creator, our father and friend. God is faithful and we can count on Him to walk with us in our sadness. Jesus used His days in the flesh to show us what God is really like in human terms that would add depth to our understanding. His grief for Lazarus was a demonstration of God’s emotional solidaity with us… even in grief and sadness.
Psalm 23:1-4 we will walk through valleys of darkness and death. Through it all He is with us as our guide and protector.
Psalm 56:8God sees our grief. When we grieve He does not think of us as weak, lacking in faith. Like we saw with the example of Jesus mourning for Lazarus… God enters into our grief, He feels it. Yet He also wants to reassure us that all is not lost Psalm 46:10, Psalm 91:1-2, Romans 8:28.
Consider: If God engages with our grief and seeks to appreciate what it means. Perhaps the flow of understanding should also flow in the other direction as well. We are grieved by loss, separation, death. What causes God grief… can we enter into and share His emotional reactions.
We are hardwired for grief. It’s a natural and normal reaction. It may be there as a learning tool so we can understand how God feels about being rejected by those He has created and loved… His reaction when we willingly separate themselves from Him through the terrible choices we make.

Processing Our Emotions

An important part of working our way through grief is expressing it to God. The Psalms are filled with any examples of opening up raw emotions of pain, doubt, anger and sharing them with God. However, the psalmist never ends up where he began. He may begin with an outpouring of grief but works through the emotions applying a God focused perspective, putting the emotions of the moment into a larger perspective. For Example Psalm 13 or Psalm 30:11-12, or Psalm 56.
Another important step in working our way through grief is to share it with others.
Galatians 6:2the body of Christ is designed to ease the burdens of its individual members
Romans 12:15 fellow believers have the ability to mourn with you
Often grief makes us want to stay apart from others to hold our emotions close to us and not let others know about them. Everyone processes their emotions such as grief in their own way. However, shutting ourselves off from others physically, mentally, emotionally can have the effect of increasing feelings of isolation and sadness.
When we share our stories with God and others our grief is lessened. 1 Thessalonians 4:18 “therefore encourage one another with these words”.

Focus on the Hope

Grief is a part of the human experience that is almost impossible to avoid. Loss is a part of life and grief is a natural response to it.
Through God’s word and the faith He has planted in us you have hope. You have confidence He is with you as you carry your heavy load… willing and able to help you with it along the way. Open up our heart to Him and trust Him because He cares for you 1 Peter 5:7.

His spirit is alive and in you… speaking to you of hope and visions tommorow… encouraging you with confidence and faith for today. Cast your burdens on Him, rely on the community of the church, dig into the truth of the word and experience hope. Hebrews 6:17-19

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