Three friends were discussing death and one of them asked: “What would you like people to say about you at your funeral?”
The first of the friends said, “I would like them to say, he was a great humanitarian, who cared about his community.”
The second said: He was a great husband and father, who was an example for many to follow.
The third friend said: I would like them to say, “Look, he’s moving!”
I hope that didn’t offend any of you, but it does fit well with today’s topic of GRIEF.
*Note* The devotions for today and tomorrow are a little longer….but the topic of grief and loneliness are timely and overarching.
I have done some recent funerals during this social distancing (10 or less) season we are in. I thought about how hard it must be to be grieving at a time when friends and family cannot be there to comfort them.
- The coronavirus/racism/and violence tend to leave us “dealing with our emotions” during these ever changing times. One of life’s hardest emotions is grief!
- Webster defines grief as (an intense emotional suffering) (caused by loss). Any loss! It’s a sadness that comes when someone or something (that emotion has been invested into) has been taken away from us.
- The word grief comes from the Latin “gravis” meaning “heavy”. Thus, the phrase “heavy heart”.
- It could be the loss of a loved one…. a relationship…a job…health… self-respect…faithfulness of your spouse. Our stay at home / businesses closed, upside down world enhances our grief of losing our “normal lifestyle.”
- The Minirth-Meier book “Healthy Christian Life” tells us that ALL grief generally follows some specific stages.
First there is the denial stage. “There must be some mistake.” This is not really happening. Then reality sets in — the person becomes angry. They may be angry at many people — or events — or even God. Eventually the anger will turn inward — feelings of guilt and anger with themselves — they sometimes begin bargaining = they make vows with god = if only things can return to normal. When anger and bargaining don’t fix the problem — depression or genuine grief sets in — it’s a necessary part of the healing process — they need to have a” good cry” so to speak. The final stage — acceptance – it can be reached when promises of God’s Word produce confidence and trust in God — and joy can begin to reappear. It’s an acceptance of Romans 8:28: “we know that in all things God works for good… (even though we cannot always understand them)…with those who love him, those whom he has called according to his purpose.”
Well, remembering all that is not important – the truth is that grief is a… normal healthy process… and that we all do it differently…and that the reality is that it can lead us to a closer relationship with God.
Did you know that even Jesus felt grief. In the story of the death of Lazarus we see how deeply Jesus was moved by grief.
We see in John 11:5…“Jesus loved Martha and her sister Mary and brother Lazarus. There was a very real personal relationship… In verse 33 — 35: “When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. “Where have they laid him?” He asked. “Come and see Lord,” they replied. and then it says ….”Jesus wept.”
The crowds were weeping loudly, they were wailing! And we see that Jesus wept, meaning tears. He felt grief…just like you and I.
We also see that The Holy Spirit grieved. He grieves over our sinfulness. In Ephesians 4:31…And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you are sealed for the day of redemption.
It then tells what the basis of the grief is…. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice.”
These sinful qualities grieve the Holy Spirit. It goes on in verse 32 to give us attitudes to show others: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
In 1993, rock star Eric Clapton was filled with grief at the death of his son – somehow, the 4-year-old child fell out the window of their 53rd floor apartment. I only bring it up because of the words he wrote in a song. The song is filled with his grief…… and then he questions what it will be like… if…. he sees his son in heaven — which is a whole new subject about saving faith — but he gets to the heart of Revelation 21:4 when he sings that there will be “no tears in heaven”. Our grief is replaced with joy…thru our faith in Jesus.
You see you can find comfort in your time of grief…. through faith. The Bible is full of verses showing God’s compassion and mercy for us.
- 1 Peter 5:7…Cast all your anxieties on him because he cares for you.
It says we can cast ALL our anxiety…(sometimes that anxiety is over changes in your life…..and these days, even changes in the way we gather for worship).
- Philippians 4:6-7… Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
So, whatever grief you are going through remember.
- 2 Corinthians 1:3-5… Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.
The Study Bible footnote says that “consolation and encouragement flows to believers…and equips them to comfort others who are in trouble.”
Alexander Nowell… says it this way… “God does not comfort us that we may be comfortable, but that we may be comforters.” That’s what it’s all about. Helping others through tough times …..as Christ comforts us. Are you suffering a loss…call me! Who do you know “grieving” a loss? How will you comfort them?
That’s why we go to funeral homes… to comfort those grieving.
That’s why we visit people in hospitals with a ministry of presence.
Pray for others facing difficult situations.
Why we welcome neighbors into a new home.
Why we do random acts of kindness… phone calls.
The things that we grieve over ultimately bring us back to the blessed assurance of our future destiny – it’s based on God’s love for us – revealed by the Holy Spirit – demonstrated by Christ’s death on the cross. It builds character – strengthens faith – equips us to comfort others and share the Gospel with them.