We all have experienced grief. When I explain some of the grief I have experienced, some of you might say, “Wow, that’s a lot!” Others of you might say, “Mine is much more intense.” I realize that. In my life I have experienced the loss of a college friend who accidently fell over a cliff, a friend I was discipling in an auto accident, my assistant last December who died at 50 years of age to cancer and her husband who preceded her a year earlier from a heart attack. Laurie and I have also had a miscarriage. I have ministered at the side of members/friends whose baby died, parent died, suicides, murder and close to 180 funerals I have officiated at. I have a fair biblical, experienced, theological and practical understanding of grief. Currently, I am facing a brother-in-law with brain cancer and parents that are older and a dad who is slipping. Good grief, that’s a lot.
Speaking of good grief, is that possible? I think it is! I am not saying “happy” or “fun” or easy. I am saying, “Is there a good way to live out grief?” Yes, here is how God is teaching me.
- Start with God. Whenever grief gets anywhere near my radar screen I go to God’s sovereignty. To know and believe that God is in control. He has never said, “Oops!” He knows our birth date and our end date. I trust His plan.
- I get my perfect empathy from Him. If I seek to get perfect empathy from anyone else, I will be disappointed. Only God the Father can truly identify to us. We can get empathy from others but it will always be flawed.
- I move towards God, not away. Many people run away from God and His body. Their flesh takes over and they run into isolation. I have learned to run towards God and His people. Without those two, it can get very lonely and dark.
- I try to express my feelings. People can’t read our minds or our feelings. We may look fine on the outside but a wreck inside. Expressing feelings is wonderful. Especially with someone who will just listen, empathize and try not to solve your problem.
- I find great comfort in worship. In the church, with my iPod/iPad or find ready specific Psalms 46, 90, 91, 33, etc. It’s very life giving.
- I seek to take care of myself. I get counseling. I exercise. I blog. I write. I find things to do to give me life.
- I put energy into things that have a cause greater than me. In other words, use the grief for a good purpose. I give. I serve. I promote.
- I believe in the steps of grief and allow myself and others to process them on their own. Denial→Anger→Bargaining→Depression→Acceptance.
- I think about heaven. Better place. Better people. No more grief.
- Ultimately, I bring it to Jesus. Whenever I experience grief I try to bring it to Jesus. He has big shoulders. The cross proved that. He says to us to unload it onto Him because He cares for us.
“Cast your burden on the Lord,
and he will sustain you;
he will never permit
the righteous to be moved. “ Psalm 55:22
“…casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. “ 1 Peter 5:7
I think bad grief can be good grief. It does not take away the pain but it does allow you to gain.