Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Facing Adversity - Healthy Grief

Grieving a loss is an appropriate response. 
Too many Christians feel that grief is wrong, that we're supposed to rejoice when a loved one goes to be with the Lord. While we can rejoice in their homegoing, we can also grieve our loss.  Bruce Barton

Ignoring pain (stuffing it) is unhealthy for my body, emotions, and spirit. Spewing (dumping) my emotions on others injures them.  A healthy release of the pain is to express it to God. He can handle it, even if I am angry at Him. The Psalms are filled with laments. God never condemns my emotions. Expressing how I feel to Him is beneficial for my emotional stability, my physical body, and my spirit.  

Allow others to help. We are part of the body of Christ, if one suffers, we all suffer. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. (1 Corinthians 12:26) My friends want to help; they are grieving with me.

Allow others into your presence. We are together in the body of Christ to bear each other’s burdens and to comfort each other. Our friends want to help carry that burden of grief that I am feeling. I need to let them come in.

Let others help with practical tasks - bring you food, mow your yard, or pick up the kids. Many of us won't ask for help. We think we should be self-sufficient or that we will be bothering others to ask for help or we can't risk rejection. Most people are more than willing to help if you allow them.

Turn to God, not away from Him. Don’t blame God for bad things that happen. God gives good gifts; He does not bring about bad things that happen to us. They are from the enemy. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:10) 

We are told that it is perfectly legitimate for believers to suffer grief. Our Lord Himself was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Though grief may reach to the roots of our souls, it must not result in bitterness. Grief is a legitimate emotion, at times even a virtue, but there must be no place in the soul for bitterness. R.C. Sproul

Don’t get stuck. I have seen people get stuck in their grief. Sometimes it is over the death of their child. I am not sure we have completely recover from losing a child but at some point we go on with our lives. We all grieve differently and for different lengths of time. As time goes along, we should see a progress in the grief - "I still hurt but I am not where I was two months ago." 

Rick Warren pointed out an important aspect of grief over a loved one. He talked about how all of our memories of the past include that person and how hard it is to imagine our pictures of the future without him or her in the picture. Somehow, I have to imagine my future without that person or without that aspect of my life that I have lost.

Find His purpose. God has a purpose in every situation we go through, good or bad. 

Be grateful for what you do have, instead of unhappy or bitter about what you don’t have. I may grieve over one part of my life, but do I recognize how great other parts of my life are?(Romans 8:28,31-35; 1 Timothy 6:6) The greatest way to honor someone that you lose is to live out your faith in the way God has given you.

Growing while I grieve:
  • Seek Wisdom – What is God’s perspective of the situation? What does He want me to do at this stage? 
  • Forgive - Is there someone that I need to forgive for the loss? Do I need to quit punishing myself over the loss? Am I willing to forgive as God has forgiven me? 
  • Seek His Presence. God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. (Acts 17:27)
  • Meditate on His Word. They speak of the glorious splendor of your majesty—
    and I will meditate on your wonderful works.
    Psalm 145:5
  • Seek His comfort. 
    Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.(Matthew 5:4)
    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 (2 Corinthians 1:3-4a)

    No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. 
    C.S. Lewis
  • Surrender your will to His will, depend on Him. Paul suffered greatly and had great faith. At one point, when he thought he was going to die, he realized that God's purpose for him was to rely on (depend on, trust, have faith in) God. Even if he died, he knew that God would raise him from the dead. He believed.
    ...the troubles we experienced in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt we had received the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead.(2 Corinthians 1:8b-9)
  • Rejoice and persevere. (Romans 5:3-5, James 1:2-5, 1 Peter 1:6-7)  Each of these passages talks about trials or suffering that we go through. They all say that we are to rejoice as we face them. Rejoicing seems impossible during those times, but we can rejoice in knowing that we will be closer to the Lord when we come out on the other side of grief.
  • Share the Comfort(or) and the Hope.
    Paul experienced God's comfort, but he also realized that he was to pass it on. He could now comfort others in the same way that God comforted Him.
    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. 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.
    (2 Corinthians 1:4b-7)

    I have a God of Hope. He has promised the overflowing of hope in my life. My part is to trust Him.
    May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
    (Romans 15:13)

Grief [is] expected, but it is different from the grief of the world. There is a difference between tears of hope and tears of hopelessness. Erwin Lutzer

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