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Christianity

Grief

Please don’t ever tell someone to be grateful for what they have left until they’ve had a chance to mourn what they’ve lost.

It will take longer than you think is reasonable, rational or even right. But that’s ok. 

– Kay Warren

Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance.

Not necessarily in that order.

Not necessarily one at a time.

Not necessarily only once.

At any given point in this year, you may have experienced one or more of these emotions.

It’s okay to not be okay about how this year has panned out.

Really, it is.

I’m not sure there’s anyone on earth who can say they’ve not lost someone or something this year. From loved ones to heroes we treasured to hopes and dreams we held dear. 2020 has been a year of loss. A lot of it.

I think one of the areas we could all use a lot of growth in as believers is lament.

We often don’t know how to grieve. We fumble with it.

It makes us uncomfortable.

It makes us question our sanity and our faith.

It feels like a never-ending pit of sorrow.

It’s like walking around with a cloud above your head that just won’t quit dumping rain on you.

There’s nothing easy or certain about grief.

It barges its way in and demands audience. In the most unexpected ways and inconvenient times.

When faced with loss as Christians, there’s a tendency to grasp for what we believe we should think and feel as opposed to acknowledging the myriad emotions waging war within us.

Yet, grief doesn’t negate the sovereignty of God. It doesn’t take away from our standing as believers. I truly believe that the reason books like Job are part of the Bible is because God knew how much we’d need them.

We’re travelers here, only passing through

And every breath we breathe is coming back to You

We’re strangers here, I know it’s true

That death is just a door that leads us home to You

Steffany Gretzinger (All That Lives Forever)

Death is just as much a part of our existence on earth as life is. It’s a reality we can’t run away from though it would be very much welcome if we could. We can’t afford not to learn the song of lament because to live in a dying world is to come face to face with death a time or two.

Struggling with our own grief means we also tend to struggle with how to let people grieve. I’ll never forget the first time I read Kay Warren’s post on their year of grieving the son they lost to suicide. It put to words thoughts I had but had never been able to express.

If we’re honest, truly honest, we want to rush people through their grief because we don’t know what to do with it…or with them. Sure, we want them to feel better. But what that usually means is that we want them to go back to “normal”.

Only there is no going back. That person we knew no longer exists. They’ve been replaced with this new person who’s learning how to do life without someone or something that deeply mattered to them.

Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give, but cannot. All that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in that hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.

– Jamie Anderson

You can’t “Christianize” your way out of grief.

You can’t “Christianize” someone out of their grief.

Grief has no patience for meaningless platitudes and carelessly quoted Scriptures, however well-meaning they may be. It requires us to truly journey with Jesus – who, even knowing He would see Lazarus again in a matter of days, still wept for the profound loss of His friend.

It compels us to hold onto our faith with all we have. To ask the hard questions. To work through the could have beens. To release what never will be. To embrace what now gets to be. To follow no template or timetable other than going where the Spirit leads us each and every day.

To take all that love that’s aching within us to one place where it can go – Jesus’ welcoming hands and open heart.

If God (Jesus) was the relationship and the bond that connected us, then the closer I became to Jesus, the closer I would be to Chadwick. Because Chadwick was not over, just hidden within God.

There’s a comforting passage in Scripture that explains this and speaks about transition and reads “To be absent from the body is to present with the Lord.”

This speaks to two realities that we must grapple with when a believer transitions: Their absence & their presence. The devastating part for me and those who love Chadwick is his absence. That’s the hurt, that’s the hole, that’s the feeling of helplessness, anger, confusion and a myriad of other emotions those who love him have to process and endure. Although that absence will always be there, it will become more manageable over time.

But there’s another reality that, if we understand it properly will offset the reality and pain of the absence some.

That’s the reality of presence. Chadwick is present with the Lord. Just as sure as the reality of his absence, is also his presence. Absent here. Yes, but present there. But where is there?

There is in the Lord’s presence, which is everywhere, meaning that as I draw near to the Lord’s presence in faith, in consciousness, in worship, I will literally feel the nearness of Chadwick.

This insight is my light when the dark clouds of grief gather. Does it take the pain entirely away? No. Does it give me peace and moments of joy in the midst of sorrow? Absolutely. 

Toure Roberts (on his grief over the loss of Chadwick Boseman)

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