Just Grieve

The past few weeks have been good in many ways. I got to see my army son for a short two weeks. We managed to cram a lot of togetherness into those days. In the midst of it my parents and sister came to visit, as well as my brother and sister-in-law. It was great to see them all. I got to help (in a very small way) in the launch of a friend’s book.

Swirling around in all that good was a lot of hard providences. A friend’s miscarriage, several friends battling different serious illnesses, a fall, a misunderstanding, hard marriage things, loss of key people from church membership, a dear neighbor putting a for sale sign in their yard. On top of the personal news, it seemed that every Facebook post, every email, even every news story was about a tragedy of some kind. I started to feel the weight of it so much I knew I needed to stop for a minute and just grieve. Too hot already outside, I sat in my recliner by the window where the sunlight washed over me. I put my earbuds in, turned on my “comfort” playlist, and closed my eyes. I let the tears come. I know that my sons and their friends were probably a bit mystified by my actions, but I didn’t bother to explain. Young men don’t always comprehend this need to grieve – although it would probably do them good to learn its value. Once I had my cry. I got up and went on with my day.

Why is it that we can see laughter as a natural response to something funny, smiling the natural response to something that makes us happy, but we don’t really like the idea of grieving over those losses we feel in life? As Michael Card says in his book A Sacred Sorrow Christians have lost the language of lament. Don’t get me wrong, I am not encouraging us to all stop life to waller in self pity, but lamenting is a part of living. Grieving loss is not only natural, it is necessary to health – both spiritual and emotional. Many of the Psalms are songs written to cry out to God about the difficulties the particular psalmist was experiencing. Job grieved about the loss and pain he was experiencing. In fact, we have a whole book called Lamentations. I think it is pretty safe to say, we were given the ability to cry for a reason. Somewhere along the way acknowledging sorrow became equated with weakness or lack of faith. I would argue that to stay unrealistically cheerful in the midst of difficulty and sorrow is to be living in a fantasy world of our own making.

We grieve. But we do not grieve as those who have no hope. We do not refuse to be comforted. This grieving process in one in which we tell our Heavenly Father about all those things that are hard and sad (after all, he knows our hearts, it won’t come as a surprise to him). But we also use this time to remind ourselves of what we know to be true according to scripture. We confess our trust in a God we cannot understand. It is the difference between complaining to God and complaining of God (Thomas Watson, The Art of Divine Contentment). It is a time to consider the griefs of this world in contrast to the great blessing of the Kingdom of God, both here, and in heaven. I like the way Ann Voskamp puts it, “Lament is a cry of belief in a good God, A God who has His ear to our hearts, a God who transfigures the ugly into beauty. Complaint is the bitter howl of unbelief in any benevolent God in this moment.”

And so I cry, “God, I am so sad! These are hard things to bear. I believe, help my unbelief. Help me to trust you even when I don’t understand the sadness I see. Remind me of those who are faithful to stay. Remind me that this life is not all we have. Remind me that there is a Land with no sickness orΒ  tears or discord or sin. Remind me that you have numbered our days and have chosen the paths of sanctification for your people. Remind me that the things that are out of my hands are still in yours. Remind me that you are King over all the world; the wars, the politics, the famine and the flood. Remind me that you are preparing a place for me. Remind me that you gently carry your lambs. Remind me that you gather my tears. Remind me that this world’s good-byes are not the end of the story.”

I grieve, and I am comforted by the God of all grace. And I can face the day.

 

 

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24 Responses to Just Grieve

  1. Melanie says:

    Perfect words at a perfect time. Thank you!

  2. Beautiful!
    ” I would argue that to stay unrealistically cheerful in the midst of difficulty and sorrow is to be living in a fantasy world of our own making.” – and not a fantasy world of my making! LOL. I’m glad you stopped to grieve. I often do this while masking my tears with a good war movie. πŸ™‚

    Grieving to me is very human and very beautiful. It is necessary and good for the soul. I’m glad you took the time to do it.

    • With all due respect, while I have often cried to a good movie I think that can be a way of not really acknowledging what you are sad about before the Lord. It is our tendency to want to push the unpleasantness aside. The crying in itself is good, but the grieving before the Lord is instructive.

      • Very good point, and you are probably right! Good thought to consider!

      • christina says:

        Funny thing about that… In general, I would agree. If you’ll grant me one counterexample, my mom still recalls that when her dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, she wanted to cry; she knew she’d feel better if she could cry; yet she couldn’t cry. She took us girls to see E.T., of all movies, and she wept through half the film. Somehow the movie unlocked the tears she couldn’t release otherwise. It can feel safer to cry in the dark anonymity of a theater, even if it’s over a solitary grief we brought in with us. I agree that may be the exception.

      • Actually, this may be a case of personality. You see, I have never experienced a time when I couldn’t cry. I have experiences many many times when I couldn’t stop crying, but I don’t think I have ever wanted to cry and not been able to. Lol, I guess if it takes a movie, watch a movie! I am not sure crying is necessarily a must have component of grieving. I just never managed to have one without the other.

  3. Cynthia Cooley says:

    Amen.

  4. christina says:

    A good word. It’s uncomfortable to grieve, even if refusing to do so causes increased pain in the long run. That Card book is excellent. It’s worth a revisit. Through that book and some study of the poetry of the Psalms, I learned that 1/3 to 1/2 of them are classified as laments, depending on which scholar you ask. Almost all of them, through that remembering you describe, turn a corner (Card’s “adversative vav”) into praise, but there is even one, Psalm 88, that is pure lament the whole way through. Isn’t that freeing? None of us wants to live in Psalm 88, but how lovely to have that inspired permission not to put on a happy face in our prayers.

    Thanks for sharing this! I’m sorry for the tears but thankful you passed on what God gave you in that experience. May He give you some happy providences soon, even if they’re little ones, with your name on them.

    • It is an amazing thing to find that we have permission to be unhappy when life isn’t happy. It is a discipline to learn to be unhappy in the right frame of heart. It is continuing to be hard right now, but I have learned to “ride it out”. Life is fluid, and this world is not my home!

  5. Kathy Gray says:

    Loved this post. It is a subject dear to my heart. I have found that grieving is an indespensible part of healing. If I don’t consciously grieve the sorrows I face, they stay buried in my subconcious, negatively affecting me. When I truly grieve, however, the worst of the pain is eventually washed away and is replaced with peace. I believe it is an invaluable part of the healing process that God intended. Thanks for addressing this subject- very eloquently as usual!

  6. christina says:

    I just scheduled a repost of “Lament or Complaint” at my blog, to go live this afternoon. Linked to this at the start. Just wanted you to know.

  7. Cindy V says:

    Found this posting to be quite timely. I am learning to embrace seasons of difficulty & ease. It seems that each season has its own unique blessing & sorrow. Trusting that wise loving Hands provide both for my good & His glory is a worthwhile exercise. Recently I have observed a phenomenon which I refer to as “seepage”. It seems that sadness/grief seeps almost imperceptibly from one sphere of life into another. For example, feeling that I am working through a great difficulty well but then find myself crying because I can’t decide what to serve for lunch. Is this a common occurrence or just my own peculiar personality?

    • I love that term, “seepage”. I can’t say if it is common, but I certainly do experience it myself. I have asked myself often in the past week, “why is this making me cry? And then realizing it has nothing to do with the issue at hand. And I might add that taking some time to grieve has not alleviated all of the burden, just made it bearable.

  8. Emily Day says:

    ‘A man has joy by the answer of his mouth, and a word spoken in due season, how good it is!’ Prov. 15:23. Thankful for God’s providence in this ‘word spoken in due season’. This has helped me check my heart and work towards obedience instead of bitterness or unthankfulness. Thankful we are allowed to greive, And make our requests known. God is good, God is kind, and He freely gives good gifts to His children. That’s some of what I’m preaching to myself. Listened to ‘God moves in mysterious ways’ last night as I was falling asleep and it lifted my soul. Thankful that there are blessings in the hard times, sanctification in trials, His present help always. Keep on posting!

  9. Jan Gagliardi says:

    Thank you for this post! It amazes me how your posts are always at the perfect time for what’s going on in my life…. Go figure!! We have an awesome God!! Thank you and I continue to pray for you every day.

    • It always pleases me to find that God is able to use what he is teaching me in someone else’s life. Thank you for your encouragement! -and your prayers, ’cause I need them.

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