Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Grief and Joy

Do you grieve well?

A few days ago a day that I had been dreading for awhile finally arrived. A day that should have been filled with joy at the birth of my niece Aimee, was instead filled with pain as she went home to be with God after 1 1/2 hours with us on earth. Expected? Yes...we all knew this was the likely outcome. Easy? No. During this time, and my years as a pastor, I've observed a number of responses from people who are suffering this type of pain. In this post, I want to address one.

Somewhere, some of us seem to have this idea that if we are true followers of Christ and have enough faith, we will always be thankful, full of joy, optimistic at every turn, never question God, and never feel pain or sorrow. This type of response used to bother me, but more often now it causes me to feel sorry for the individual, because I think they miss out on a much needed time to grieve, question, feel pain, and grow stronger as a result.

"Jesus wept." (John 11:35).

John 11 presents us with an incredible picture of Jesus and how he loved. Jesus had a special relationship with Lazarus; "Lord, the one you love is sick..." (v. 3) and so it would seem to be no surprise that He would weep at his death. And yet, when you read a little closer, you see that Jesus knew from the beginning that Lazarus' death was only temporary.

v. 4: "This sickness will not end in death..."
v. 11: "I am going there to wake him up."
v. 23: "Your brother will rise again..."
v. 25: "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies."

And yet...

v. 33: "When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled."
v. 35: "Jesus wept."

Jesus is overcome by the emotion of the moment; the sight of so many suffering so much pain was enough to cause the Son of God to weep. Now let me ask you this; if Jesus, knowing He was going to perform a miracle was overcome with emotion and wept, how much more should you and I feel the freedom to grieve deeply?

The truth is there are many things that break God's heart...and I would guess that God, who identifies Himself as our Father, grieves for us when He sees His children suffering heart-ache. Isn't that what we see in this picture with Jesus? Jesus (God), is overcome by the pain that His children are suffering, and it causes Him to break down and weep Himself.

What's my point? I think I have a couple...
1) When you are overcome with emotion and feel like crying, cry.
2) When you see someone else grieving deeply, don't try to make them feel better...instead, try just sitting in silence and grieve with them. Buy them a cup of coffee, and ask them about their pain.

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