The Shadows of Grief
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You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever.—Psalm 30:11–121
We stand oftentimes in the deep shadows of grief, longing for comfort, yearning for love, while Christ is close beside us, closer than any human friend can be. If only we will dry our tears and look up into His face, believing, our soul shall be flooded with His wonderful love and our sorrow shall be swallowed up in fullness of joy. There is never the least doubt about the presence of Christ in our times of trouble; it is only because we remain unaware of that presence that we are not comforted. …
In the shortest verse in the Bible, we have a window into the very heart of the Master, and we find there the most wonderful sympathy. “Jesus wept.” It is a great comfort in time of sorrow to have even human sympathy, to know that somebody cares, that someone feels with us. [These tears] told of the holiest sympathy this world ever saw—the Son of God weeping with two sisters in a great human sorrow.
This shortest verse in the Bible was not written merely as a fragment of the narrative—it contains a revealing of the heart of Jesus for all time. Wherever a believer in Christ is sorrowing, One stands by, unseen, who shares the grief. There is immeasurable comfort in the revealing that the Son of God suffers with us in our suffering, is afflicted in all our affliction, and is touched with the feeling of our infirmities. …
It is important that we have a clear understanding of the subject of sorrow, in order that when it falls to our lot to suffer, we may receive blessing, and not hurt, from our experience. Every sorrow that comes into our life brings us something good from God. There is in Jesus Christ an infinite resource of consolation, and we have only to open our heart to receive it. Then we shall pass through sorrow sustained by divine help and love, and shall come from it enriched in character and blessed in all our life.—J. R. Miller2
There had been an accident and the husband had died, leaving a young wife and a three-year-old child. One day in the midst of her deep grieving and feeling that life wasn’t worth it anymore and that she didn’t know how she could go on, she was reminded of a list of goals and dreams she and her husband had made together for the next five years—things they would do with their son, places they wanted to take him, a cruise they would go on together, etc.
As she looked over the list, her eyes fell on a goal that her husband, Jim, had come up with. His face had lit up when he thought this one up: “Find one needy person each month to help. Do something special for them to cheer them up.”
They had had only one chance to do it, but it had brought such a wonderful response that they had been eager to repeat it. Jim had said, “Sweetheart, it takes so little on our part to bring great happiness to others.”
But now, what could she do? “I’m the one in need. I’m the one hurting,” she thought to herself. She heard Jim speak again in her mind something he had always told her: “If you’re ever feeling blue, always remember there may be someone more needy than you.”
That day she made the decision to look for the needs around her and bring encouragement to those whom God laid on her heart. She knew that God had given Jim to her as a special gift of His love and care. She knew that she had been privileged to live with him for several wonderful years, that his passing wasn’t to mean an end of her joy, nor was it a sign that God had now withdrawn the gift that He had given her. The gift of Jim’s love was meant to forever live on in her heart, and, in fact, would grow as she gave it away.
Her grief was gradually replaced with a purpose through which she was able to bring much joy and the love and knowledge of Jesus to many others who were lonely and needed a friend.—Source unknown
Release your grief
Tragedy always produces strong emotions—anger, fear, depression, worry, and sometimes guilt. These feelings are scary to us, and we don’t know what to do with them. When we have experienced a major loss, these enormous feelings bubble up within us. If we don’t deal with them now, it will take us far longer to recover.
Some people never directly deal with grief in life. They stuff it. They push it down. They pretend it’s not there. They play like it doesn’t exist. And that’s why they’re still struggling with emotional stress from losses that occurred 20 or 30 years earlier. …
In Matthew 5:4, he says, “God blesses those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”3 It’s okay to grieve. When people are Christians, we know they will go on to Heaven, so we need not grieve like the world. Our grief can be different. We grieve because we’re going to miss them, but we can also be at peace because we know they are with God.
What do you do with your feelings? You don’t repress them or stuff them deep inside you. You release them—you give them to God. You cry out to God, “God, I’m hurt! I’m grieving! This is a tough one to take.” If you want a good example of this, read through the book of Psalms, where many times David spills his guts and says, “God, I’m in a tough time right now. I am really, really hurting.” You cry out to God, just like David did.
Psalm 62:8b says, “Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge.”4 If you are going through a loss right now, please understand that if you don’t release your grief, it will pour out eventually. Feelings that are pushed down fester, and eventually they explode in a much worse situation.
Release your grief first so that God can begin to heal your heart.—Rick Warren5
Jesus is here
Why do we cry? For ourselves. How can we cry for the dead saints who’ve gone to be with the Lord, who are better off, rid of all the pain, the suffering, and the heavy old flesh and all its problems? Their education on this earth is over and has just begun in heaven. They’re getting a whole new start. They’re doing great; don’t worry about them. But you can cry a little for yourself if you want to, if you’re sad.
Jesus will be here to the end. He says, “I will never leave thee nor forsake thee. Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.”6 Amen.—David Brandt Berg
My best friend had phoned me with the sad news that her father had suddenly passed away during the night. My mind was still reeling with shock and grief. How could a life slip away so abruptly, with no time for last words or goodbyes? I thought about the grandchildren who will grow up never knowing their grandfather, my friend who will no longer have a dad’s support and advice, and the widow who would miss her husband’s loving presence.
As I read a Bible study that detailed Jesus’ last hours, crucifixion, and resurrection, it struck me that the death of the Savior must have seemed to His friends and disciples like the worst thing that could have happened. Yet it was transformed into the most wonderful miracle imaginable: Christ’s triumph over death. If hope emerged from such a terrible event, can that hope still be found today? I thought of my hurting friend. Where was the hope in that tragic and untimely death?
My eyes fell on a Bible verse: “God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation.”7 As I reflected on those words, I realized that the miracle of God’s gift to man did not end 2,000 years ago with Jesus’ resurrection. It has continued on, carrying a message of living hope through the ages and into the 21st century.
Regardless of how dark things look today, a glorious dawn is approaching. When Jesus prepared to leave His disciples, He left them with the promise that because He lives, they (and we) will live also. ...8
As surely as the sun rises every morning, we can leave behind whatever sorrow or pain we are facing and rise again with renewed faith and comfort in the eternal love of God.—Elena S.
Published on Anchor July 2018. Read by Jon Marc. Music by John Listen.
2 Excerpted and adapted from The Ministry of Comfort (Hodder & Stoughton, 1901).
6 Hebrews 13:5; Matthew 28:20.
7 1 Peter 1:3 NLT.
8 John 14:19.