OVERCOMING GRIEF

On several occasions people have asked me to write about Overcoming Grief. Until now I have not felt qualified (if that is the right word) to write on the subject. There have been losses in my life, of course, but nothing that filled me with an overwhelming grief that would not let go. I have certain ideas based on my understanding of the Bible about how a Christian should deal with great loss, but these had never been tested in my life. Since my precious husband’s ‘Graduation’ to heaven in April 2006, I have ‘tested’ my theories in the crucible of my own life. I will try to share some of the things I have learned.

There is a place of Great Grief. I have visited there. My whole life was wrapped up in David, and just contemplating life without him was overwhelming. I didn’t know how to BE without him. It is necessary to walk through the grief process, but it is NOT required that we live there. I found that by distracting myself and keeping busy I was able to deal with grief issues a little at a time, instead of being consumed.

Grief can come from many sources such as loss through death or divorce, great misunderstanding or offense between friends or relations, rebellious children, or physical disability, to name a few.

After we have fallen on our faces in utter helplessness before the Lord Jesus Christ and asked Him to come into our lives, to raise us up in the power of His resurrection, and to give us purpose and meaning for our lives; then we must get up and walk. We must “study to show yourself approved.” 2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV). “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:” Philippians 2:5. “Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ:” 2 Corinthians 10:5. To do this we must “put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.” Ephesians 4:24. “… we have the mind of Christ” 1 Corinthians 2:16b. and we must not be “conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.” Romans 12:2.

Grief is part of the crucible we must go through to bring us into the image of Jesus Christ. He suffered grief, loss, pain, betrayal–all the things we suffer. “… if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.” Romans 8:17b-18.

The grief and loss can drag us down into depression. If we want to overcome depression, we must bring “into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;” 2 Corinthians 10:5, and put on “the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.” Isaiah 61:3. This is an act of will and does not depend on feelings. Begin to “Make a joyful noise unto the LORD,” Psalms 98:4; “Sing unto him, sing psalms unto him,” 1 Chronicles 16:9. Fill your home or car with praise songs on the radio or recorder, and fill your thoughts with praise and worship for an awesome, loving God. This is NOT an ‘instant fix’. It takes time. Be gentle with yourself, and express your feelings. If there is no one else to listen, God will. He knows your thoughts and feelings anyway, so there is no point in trying to hide them. Yell at Him if you need to. He is big enough to handle it and won’t hold it against you. Also we need to work on forgiving whoever is at the root of our grief. I know it sounds foolish to be mad at someone for dying; but, at times, I was angry with Dave for leaving me, all the while knowing he couldn’t help it.

After the first overwhelming loss and disbelief passed, I found that it was the little things that hurt the most.
~Having to spend time searching for some little thing he could have found instantly.
~Walking through a store and seeing something I would like to buy for him.
~Going to a favorite restaurant that we had always visited together.
~Serving a meal that was a particular favorite of his.
~Seeing the new bikes we had just bought and had only ridden a couple of times.
~Going into the freezer or a closet and finding something I had bought especially for him.
~Having to be the driver on trips when I had usually been the navigator.
So many little things just punch me in the stomach, and sometimes I revisit that place of Great Grief. Then I have to remind myself of all the physical pain and suffering he went through over the years, and how anxious he was to see Jesus again, and to return to the heaven that he had visited in 1972.

I could tear myself up with regrets, fears, recriminations, what ifs; but what would be the point? I believe that, if we really trust in the love of God and His care and concern for our well being, we can release the pain and allow God to send comfort and healing. David will always be part of my life, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. He was my husband, my lover, the father of my children, my best friend, my teacher, and so much more for most of my life. I like to picture him in heaven with our friends and relations that have gone on. I can just see them dancing in the streets, praising God, and rejoicing together! I would not call him back to this vale of tears if I could!

Because of Dave’s experiences of heaven, which he shared with me, I have no fear of death. Several years ago the Lord spoke to my heart that, if I was on ‘Ground Zero’ of a nuclear explosion and it was God’s will, when the dust cleared, I could still be standing there without a scratch on me. Remember the fiery furnace in Daniel 3? “Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, came forth of the midst of the fire. And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counselors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.” Daniel 3:26-27. Coupled with Dave’s description of heaven, what have I to fear?

If you are not a Christian already, open yourself to the Lord now and let Him fill you with His love, joy and comfort. He is standing with open arms waiting for you to realize that you are not doing such a great job of running your own life, and He has a much better plan. If you believe your lost one was not a Christian, do not despair. The thief on the cross was granted salvation at the last minute. [Luke 23:43.] We have no right to judge the salvation, or lack thereof, of another. God looks on the heart. Let Him be the judge; and, in the meantime, believe for the best. God loves each of us; and “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is long-suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9. “And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1 John 2. I’m not saying that all will be saved, but do not pass judgment until the time.

As the poem “Footprints in the Sand” by Mary Stevenson points out, the times we feel most forlorn are the times when the Lord carries us. He has promised never to forsake us [Hebrews 13:5b], and we can rest in His promises. I have tested this myself and find it to be true.

May God comfort you with everlasting comfort, and fill you with His joy.

July 9, 2007

GOD KNOWS BEST

Our Father knows what’s best for us,
So why should we complain–
We always want the sunshine,
But He knows there must be rain–
We love the sound of laughter
And the merriment of cheer,
But our hearts would lose their tenderness
If we never shed a tear. . .
Our Father tests us often
With suffering and with sorrow,
He test us, not to punish us,
But to help us meet Tomorrow. . .
For growing trees are strengthened
When they withstand the storm,
And the sharp cut of the chisel
Gives the marble grace and form. . .
God never hurts us needlessly,
And He never wastes our pain,
For every loss He sends to us
Is followed by rich gain. . .
And when we count the blessings
That God has so freely sent,
We will find no cause for murmuring
And no time to lament. . .
For Our Father loves His children,
And to him all things are plain,
So He never sends us Pleasure
When the soul’s Deep Need Is Pain. . .
So whenever we are troubled,
And when everything goes wrong,
It is just God working in us
To make Our Spirit Strong.
(Author Unknown)