When Christians Grieve:Voices of Grief.

When C.S.Lewis wrote of his wife’s death, his opening words were, “No one ever told me…that grief was so like fear.”

At the age of 40, my wife contracted breast cancer.The happy and active mother of four teenage children, her life soon resumed with a favourable prognosis after successful surgery.

Over a year later she suffered a rapid loss in weight.The organism was in the bone and further surgery was necessary.Her life expectancy was six to eighteen months, but she enjoyed reasonable health for another four years.The end came nearly two years ago when she was 46.

Encouraged by family and friends,and fortified through faith in Christ, we were prepared for death.

But I was ill-prepared for grief, for “No one ever told me…that grief felt so like fear.”

The Bible regards grief as a very real thing.The word it uses signifies sorrow, pain, or a wound.It applies mainly to sorrow of soul, such as that of the disciples at the imminent death of Jesus.

“Grief”, says Jay Adams, “may be called a life-shaking sorrow over loss.Grief tears life to shreads;it shakes one from top to bottom.It pulls a person loose;he comes apart at the seams.Grief is truly nothing less than a life-shattering loss.”

Those who grieve over death are called “bereaved.” The word “reave” means to commit ravages, to forcibily deprive or take by force. A “bereaved” person is literally one who is broken up in what is an intensely personal experience.

Bereavement describes the whole reaction to loss;it includes the emotional response and our adjustment to that loss.One’s thought, feeling and behaviour are so drasctically affected that the condition may be viewed as an illness.

 

When the well-known minister, William Sloane Coffin, lost his twenty-four-year-old son, Alex, in a terrible automobile accident, he said he received letters, cards and telephone calls from many friends and acquaintances, all of them well-meaning, but very few of them helpful.He said some of the worst of them came from Reverends who proved by what they said that they know more about the Bible than they do about the human heart.“I know all of the right Biblical passages,” said Coffin, “Blessed are they who mourn.Weeping endures for the night, but joy comes in the morning.I know all of that.But the depth of my grief made those words unreal.”

Lynn Caine wrote a book about her experience of suffering the loss of a husband, then sinking deeply into grief.Her book was called Widow.She said, “being a widow is like living in a country where no one speak’s your language.”

To enter into grief is like being in a country where no one speaks your language.Or as William Shakespeare could be paraphrased to say:Everybody knows how to heal grief, except those who actually experience it.”

The psalmist in Psalms 77 speaks very honestly about grief:

“Because of you, Lord God, I can’t sleep.I am restless and can’t even talk.I think of times gone by and those years long ago.Each night my mind is flooded with questions.” Then he says, “God Most High, what’s hurt me most is that you no longer help us.” Then later in the Psalm, the psalmist has come to an insight: “You walked through the water of the mighty sea, but your footprints were never seen.You guided your people like a flock of sheep and you chose Moses and Aaron to be their leaders.”

Charles de Gaulle was a World War two hero and president of France.What many do not know is that Charles de Gaulle and his wife, Yvonne, were parents of a Downs Syndrome child, a daughter named Anne.Regardless of what was going on in the affairs of stae, Charles de Gaulle would come home every day and would spend time with Yvonne, giving special attention to Anne.When they would put her to bed at night, Yvonne would sometimes say to Charles, “I am deeply troubled about Anne. I have prayed so often that she could be like others. Charles, why is she not like the others.?” Anne did not live to adulthood.They had a private grave side funeral service.And at the funeral the priest said, “When Jesus was on the cross, all that the world could see was suffering and death, but the hidden hand of God was at work to bring victory and redemption, just as the hidden hand of God is at work to bring healing to Anne.” When the service was over, Yvonne could not pull herself away from the grave. She was stricken with grief. Charles went over and touched her on the elbow and said, “Come yvonne, did you not hear the words of the priest? She is now like the others.”

In the midst of our grief, the hidden hand of God. If you are in the midst of grief, look for the hidden presence of God in the midst of the churning waters.{Thomas Long}.

O Lord, how long will you  forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand? Turn and answer me, O Lord my God! Restore the sparkle to my eyes, or I will die.Don’t let my enemies gloat, saying, “We have defeated him!” Don’t let them rejoice at my downfall. But I trust in your unfailing love, I will rejoice because you have rescued me.I will sing to the LORD becaus he is good to me.(A psalm of David,Psalm.13).

You can hear the cry of grief and loneliness in David’s voice as he exclaims in Psalm.102:1,2. I am like an owl in the desert,like an owl in a far-off wilderness.I lie awake,lonely as a solitary bird on a roof.

About 700 years before our Lord was born, Isaiah the prophet described Jesus as, “A man of sorrows and aquainted with grief.” (Isa.53:3). His grief was expressed for others, as when he wept at the grave of  His friend Lazarus and mourned over the city of Jerusalem. (John.11:25 f,; Matt.23:27 f).He also knew what it was to grieve for Himself. A few hours before His own betrayal and death, His humanity endured such suffering in Gethsemane that “His sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.( Luke:22:44).

Great though His grief was, He went to the cross, that through the perfect sacrifice of Himself He might secure the salvation of His people from their sins.(Heb.5:9, 9:26). The person who acknowledges Jesus Christ as absolute king of his life receives forgiveness of sins and enjoys a personal relationship made real by the Holy Spirit. (Acts.16:30 f.;Acts.10:43). This bond is particularly meaningful in grief, because Jesus shared our earthly experiences, including suffering and death.( Donald Howard,Christians grieve too.The Banner of Truth Trust).

 

 

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3 Comments on “When Christians Grieve:Voices of Grief.”

  1. Tina Ivester Says:

    Bill, I would like to pass this along to some church members if you don’t mind? We have had so many to suffer great loss . This is a post from the heart , thank you for sharing.

  2. Charles Larrimore, Jr. Says:

    Great post, Bill.

  3. Dwight Says:

    Bill, I have always appreciated how you diligently seek the Lord to learn from every life experience. There is no way I can understand at this moment the depth of the grief you have suffered, but I appreciate your willingness to help others through it.


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