Sunday, November 29, 2015

Old Grief

I've been thinking about grieving recently and felt like sharing some thoughts.

It never actually goes away does it.  The sadness might not be sharp anymore, like a broken bone's piercing pain, and tears may not randomly come at a surprising moment with a passing thought, but it never fully leaves.

I wonder how much grief changes a person?  If a loss was restored, would it be possible to be as happy as if it never happened?  I honestly don't know.  Maybe there would always be that seed of sadness in experiencing a loss that might stay hidden but always present?

Over time, sad painful memories that once brought sudden tears and pain, bring wistful sadness no longer visible to the outside world.

The outside world forgets or doesn't care, but whatever your grief is, it is not less important or less painful based on outside opinion.  Our culture doesn't have any room for grieving properly.  It's uncomfortable and annoying to others and we cannot change that, but we can give ourselves permission to feel sad if we need to.  We can give value to our own grief no matter how "big" or "small" it seems to others.

The Bible study I'm going through this week "The names of God" was all about his name "Prince of Peace"

- the verses were Luke 2:8-14
John 14:25-27
Philippians 4:6-7
Hebrews 13:20-21

And the last was John 16:31-33  Part of that one is this ".... These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world."

Most of us I'm sure have a personal grief or pain of some kind that can be overwhelming, then add onto that the pain and struggles of friends, then add the problems of the world that we can't do enough about to make truly better.  It's overwhelming until we realize that God didn't ask us to fix the world.

I see posts about making America a "Christian Nation again" and can only think how that completely misses the point.  Our view of peace on earth isn't possible because if we gave this a description it would sound like heaven - no wars, no fighting, loving each other, food for everyone, no sin, or pain, or tears, and everyone treated fairly.  Our frustration with not seeing this heaven on earth NOW causes us to miss out on seeing that peace on earth HAS come.

Jesus wasn't the political earthly ruler they were hoping for to bring about change, yet his kingdom has come and there is peace on earth now.  John 14:27 Jesus said, "Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; Not as the world gives do I give to you.  Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

In grieving I think there can also be worry along with the sadness and there can be a feeling of not getting something that we deeply want.  Some of our deep desires won't be fulfilled till heaven, but does that mean that God doesn't want to hear about these things?  In grief I think we can begin to think that the things we desire aren't important to God.

In the Bible study this week they focused on Philippians 4:7 "And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."  But the verse right before this one I actually heard a little bit about in a sermon this week on Ecclesiastes.  Verse 6 which is "do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." The sermon that touched on this verse was talking about the "requests" part.  That God DOES want to hear what we desire and that he is a good Dad.  He says yes as much as he can.  Many people have the view of God that he is the strict  "no" Dad, but that's not the case.  He says no or wait when it's best for us, but he does want us to have good things and is preparing heaven for us.  On this earth his "yes" might be comfort and peace and something better than what we ask if the thing we desire isn't good for us at the moment.  The point though is that He DOES care and he does want us to request things of Him. 

He delights in His children.  He delights in you, and He cries with us when we cry.

Backing up even farther to verse 4 it says, "Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say rejoice..."  Which could be the band aid verse that has been slapped onto a grieving person.  Perhaps you've been deeply sad and someone threw that verse at you?  As I ponder this verse and look back at my own life.  The times I couldn't rejoice in my circumstances or grief, yet, if I think about it.  I can always rejoice in the Lord.  It doesn't mean I'm always happy, but rejoicing in the hope of heaven and rejoicing in the peace He offers right now on this earth is possible.

People use this "rejoice always" verse out of their discomfort to try to make the other person happy again.  Unfortunately it turns into loading guilt onto them and making them feel like they aren't allowed their grief and sadness.  Or it feels like a short cut to the end of grief because people want to get it over with.  "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me."  We can rejoice always in the Lord because he is walking through that valley of shadow with us.  Other people often do not want to or simply can't.  They throw band aid verses at us, hoping to short circuit that trip through the valley so they can meet us at the end and skip the hard part.

Rather than getting upset with these people though, I want to encourage you, as well as myself, that it's not up to them to walk this valley.  Our Prince of Peace cares and grieves with us.

"Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, by the blood of the eternal covenant, equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen." Hebrews 13:20-21

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