Last week was filled with grief for many directly affected by the Virginia Tech shooting. But sooner or later, suffering and loss is something we will all have to deal with.
In God's providence, the recent April TableTalk issue was on the topic of grief. Ligonier Ministries has kindly made the content available as a means of God's help to those coping with loss.
There are a number of wonderful articles offering a biblical perspective on grief but the one that spoke to me was by Jim Coffield entitled From Grief to Glory. In the article, he asserts that how we deal with grief and loss reveals our core belief about God's nature and our own heart.
He makes several great points in the article about dealing with grief in our lives -
1. Loss is inevitable.
While we live in this present age, loss is inevitable... No one is exempt. Although the degree and level of suffering and loss may be dissimilar, we all will experience loss, and we will have to face the realities of grief.
He asks a vitally pertinent question - what do we do with our grief?
What do we do with our pain?... If we are honest, we will admit we often try to make a deal with God concerning loss: "I will follow you but make sure my kids turn out ok. I will follow you but I want to earn your blessing."
Coffield tells us that this kind of thinking is wrong since it attempts to relate to God on the basis of our efforts to earn His blessing.
God has revealed that we already have all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ...we should live out of this fullness because our greatest loss, our relationship with God, was forever addressed on the cross. We are not alone and our Father will never leave us.
2. God is Aware of Our Losses.
Coffield asks the question we want to know but may be too afraid to ask - in the midst of our loss, does God care?
Scripture is clear that Jesus is intimately aware of the cries of his children. Jesus weeps of Jerusalem and Lazarus' tomb....The most obvious display of his concern for the effects of sin and loss in our lives is His coming and sacrifice for us on the cross.
His point serves to remind us that the cross is the definitive statement that God loves us and cares for us, even when we are in the midst of suffering and grief.
3. How Should We Grieve?
Coffield makes the point that Jesus invites us to grieve with Him, to come to Him in our grief and suffering. Yet, we often suppress our grief as a means of coping rather than facing our grief. In doing so, we may miss the opportunity to approach God and receive the kind of comfort that only He can bring.
"Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted". Most of us, however, refuse to mourn and grieve. We refuse to mourn because we cannot wrap our finite minds around the despair and hope that live in loss... God is inviting us to face the significant and debilitating losses of our lives by resting in His arms...God invites us to trust him, to depend upon him. Jesus says "Come to me, all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
Artwork copyright JR Bell (Used with permission)