Grief is a painful journey.
For we live in a sinful fallen world don’t we? Pain is inevitable. Sin is anti-relational as it destroys relationships and often time spirals like cancer. Because of the Fall of mankind (Gen 3:1-22), at times, there are certain situations of brokenness that seems to be even beyond repair.
I am currently working with a couple in need of counseling that seems likes one of those situations. There was an unexpected death in the family and it is a situation filled with grief and sorrows.
“I am without words. This seems like an impossible situation.” That is how I honestly thought and felt! And it dawned on me. This is how many members in the church feel like walking through grief and sorrow. Many Christians walking through sorrow feel as though God is not good nor near in their grief.
How do Christians faithfully deal with grief and sorrow?
The Dilemma: A Proper Sorrow and A Proper Joy
The scripture records the words here, “Who can make straight what God has made crooked.” (Eccl 7:13).
What if suffering and sorrow was part of God’s plan of sovereignty? Even if the circumstance looks like injustice, who is men to tell the potter why certain order of what (Rom 9:1-27)?
In those troubling situations, the prideful heart so often misses the purpose of sorrows. Both ill and good of the heat, God has purposed to make certain circumstance and situations to point back to His own glory.
During the early colonial period (1607-1776) puritans such as John Owen, Richard Baxter, John Bunyan, and Thomas Watson asked similar questions.
Puritans in trials and tribulation tried to make sense of answers in the midst of suffering. You read the accounts of prayers and supplications in “The Valley of Vision” (A Collection of Prayers) through scripture as a supplemental book.
The fundamental question in the midst of sorrow was, “What is a proper grieving from a biblical standpoint?”
As believers, I should not feel sorrow like the hopeless world.
As followers of Christ, you ought not to weep like the broken world.
As Christians, we do not grieve like the Christ-less world! (1 Thess 4:13)
Truth #1: Sorrows is All Of our Experience
The Apostle Paul said, “I say rejoice again, rejoice!” (Phil 4:4-8). The immediate response for Christians often is this specific passage to walk through sorrow. However, even in the midst of unexpected situations?
Was Paul only joyful in the midst of suffering? Or was he both sorrowful and joyful? The answer throughout scripture seems to indicate that both emotions were evident. “I am as sorrowful yet rejoicing!” (2 Cor 6:10).
Jesus Christ himself says to the disciples in his departure, “I am going away.” (John 8:21; 14:28; 16:7). As a result, “Sorrow has filled their heart” (John 16:6).
The word, “filled” in the Greek πληρόω (plēroō) could be rendered as, “DOMINATING” In essence to take control of the heart.
“Intoxication” (Acts 13:52; Rom 8:4; Eph 5:18) is the same word here. Paul is instructing believers to not let grief or sorrow to not rule and dominate the heart. Even in the midst of, (1) betrayal, (2) sorrow, (3) grief experiences, do not let all these situations to dominate and control the trajectory of life.
Christ promises in the midst of difficult hardship, “That my joy might remain in you, and your joy might be full.” (John 15:11). The early church held to the promises of, “You made known to me the path of life; you make me full of joy.” (Acts 2:28)
#Truth 2: Sorrow is Much More than Emotions
People asking the question in the midst of pain and suffering are, “Why did this happen?” There are often three areas that are affected by grief.
1. You’re not THINKING RIGHT
Scripture: Help reorient the way you’re thinking.
2. Your emotion IS NOT RIGHT
Meditation: The desires will warm up your affections.
3. Your actions are ALL OVER
Communion: This will help your choices of life.
So what do you ought to do in those situations?
To first lower that sorrow in your heart, so that the level of grief is brought down in order that you may have proper thinking of God through the inerrant Word.
As Christians, we do not want to interpret God based on your circumstances. But instead to “return” (remember) of Who is He and His deeds (Lam 3:19-20). As followers of Christ, we can have a true living hope in the Lord even though things are not turning out as expected (Psa 76).
When people are walking through grief/sorrow and are struggling with depressions, they have the wrong thinking. Even if the person is thinking about God at all!
God’s Word should take over. “Let the Word of Christ dwell (rule) your heart richly” (Col 1:16).
Sound Doctrine Leads to Proper View of God / Self
World’s Way of Thinking: Man -> Circumstance / Experience = Truth
God’s Way of Thinking: TRUTH (GOD) -> Circumstances / Experience = Man
“But Jonathan, I feel like as though I am living in hypocrisy. My lips and heart just don’t match up.” Yes, it’s LIPS and the INNER HEART of man (Matt 15:18) that scripture points to. You are correct.
To have an honest inventory of life with an honest answer should be, “I AM BOTH!” I got both going on. God may not change the circumstance, but He does give His people strength for today and hope for tomorrow (2 Cor 8:1-9).
The incarnate Son of God, Jesus Christ himself cried out with a loud voice in the gospel accounts, “I am deeply grieved.”(Matt 26:28). Jesus was honest with his emotional state he felt with his soul.
Therefore, be honest with the emotions in what is happening within the (1) Mind, (2) Heart, (3) Will.