(Post by: Lilly Hobbs)
How should a believer grieve? This is a question I have been wrestling with; trying to find the answer to for quite a while now. I’ve never enjoyed the process of grief, and I’m certain that most people don’t.
In the past month, I attended the funeral of a man who never made a profession of faith. Then, just about a week ago, I watched a young woman (in her 40s) who had cancer, take some of her very last breaths. I am unsure of her salvation as well. Isn’t it such a blessing that Christians have an assurance of seeing our saved loved ones again?
Just to clarify, I am not about to say that Christians should not grieve or that grief is bad. Rather, I want to look at how Scripture expects believers to grieve.
I think the hardest thing about grief is coming to the realization that we were not made to experience it. Because of sin, we have death, and we cannot possibly be expected to cope with those things on our own.
Grief is a natural emotion to death. Jesus made it that way. Here is what I’ve been “wrestling with” though… Why do so many Christians grieve more or in the same ways that unbelievers do?
Kind of a crazy question, but I’m being serious.
Many Christians seem to draw it out and expect conversations to be centered around what only they are going through. It appears to me that they are choosing NOT to rely on the Lord. Instead, looking to the world for sympathy and comfort that it cannot give. Only the Lord can bind up our broken hearts.
They trade the Lord’s strength for worldly sympathy, which is temporary and only provides momentary relief.
Christians must be very careful to not live in prolonged grief and despair, looking for constant sympathy. That can be a selfish attitude, and very detrimental to your relationship with Jesus.
It proves that He really isn’t enough for you, and that you would rather remain inward focused instead of finding comfort in Jesus’ love for you. Sympathy is, when looked at from a spiritual standpoint, at its core, selfish. See Philippians 2:3.
It was C.S. Lewis who once said, “Selfishness has never been admired.”
Attempting to gain, consciously or subconsciously, as much sympathy as you possibly can out of the grieving process, shows that you’re trying to avoid the demands of grief. You’re trying to fight the fierce, yet holy, pilgrimage that grief will take you on. We tend to swim against the currents of it, terrified of being overwhelmed or even becoming lost in our brokenness.
If we resist that process, that holy pilgrimage as I just described, we will never come to the place of wholeness that the emotion called “grief” was meant to bring us to. If only we would long to receive God’s strength in the midst of the pain and suffering instead of sympathy, then our grief would have purpose, and we would ultimately find healing.
Revelation 21:4 explains that one day Jesus will wipe every tear from our eyes and that there will be no more death. How absolutely heavenly. As believers, we must rest in that knowledge and peace. Knowing that our Savior wants nothing more than to wipe our tears with His own hands.
2 Corinthians 1:5-7 says, “For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ. If we are distressed, it is for your comfort and salvation; if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which produces in you patient endurance of the same sufferings we suffer. And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.”
God allows us to feel grief because He wants it to bring us so much closer to His heart. It should make us evaluate where we are with Jesus, and if we are really living for eternity.
As I witnessed that 40 year-old woman take some of her last breaths last week, every second felt like an eternity. These are usually seconds I tend to think go by so quickly, and complain I don’t have enough of. But the reality is, each second is indeed long enough to do something; to be what God wants me to be. Seconds are what effect eternity. Not minutes or hours as we tend to think. I feel God challenging me to be conscious of MY seconds and what I’m really living for. Did I accomplish what God had for me to do for eternity today? Am I loving and giving and taking notice of this second I have the ability to seize and serve Jesus with?
Oh Jesus, may we become lost in our brokenness so that we can be found in your presence.
“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 of troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
SO WHAT IS YOUR RESPONSE?
= Do you spend your “seconds” for eternity?
= Are you careful not to live in prolonged grief?
= What are you going to do differently?