Where do I begin to write on the subject of grief? I must begin within the parameters of God’s grace. To approach anything, to come to a knowledge of things in this life, outside of His grace, leaves us with unanswered questions and unfulfilled promises.
Grief is the result of—our response to—the loss of something, particularly the loss of a family member or close friend. Grief is the human side. Grace is God’s side. Grief outside the realm of our Father’s grace will never be properly understood, dealt with, or overcome. Grief wrapped in God’s grace brings us into His own presence, His wisdom, and the comfort of His “everlasting arms.” To understand grief as our Father sees it will enable us to embrace it, endure it, and triumph through it. It will bring us beyond the grief, in time; where grief is exchanged for His grace. As deeply agonizing is the grief, so deeply His grace works in our hearts to experience His glory and joy.
“Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4
In many articles on the subject of grief this verse from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount is quoted. We first understand this comfort in the context of mourning over our sins. It is the believer, the sons and daughters of the living God, who have experienced His grace. Those who have already come to Christ in repentance and godly sorrow receive this blessing in all times of loss. This comfort is already a part of our relationship with the Father through Jesus Christ. He is, at all times, and every day, preparing us to lose the things and the people, we love. This does not make the grieving any easier. We still must go through the pain and agony, but with something the unbeliever does not have—FAITH, HOPE, and the LOVE of a gracious heavenly Father. In our loss, and during our grieving, He reveals Himself as He never has before.
Death for the one we lose is a final moment in time and history. There is no more pain, and no grieving in the heart and spirit of one who dies, physically. There is no loss—only gain—unless the person dies without Christ; then our grieving will be useless for them.
As I have experienced the lose of a niece at the age of 23, my grandparents, 18 aunts and uncles (12 children in my mother’s family; 8 in my father’s), cousins, my father-in-law, my mother-in-law, my father, my mother, and now my brother, who was my only sibling, Jerry is now the only one of this family older than I am. It behooves me to think more clearly, surely, and wisely about this thing called grief. What is its purpose as it relates to the death of a loved one, family or friend?
The purpose of this series of articles on grief is two-fold: as a ministry to my sister-in-law, and others who have lost a loved one; and as preparation for myself and others who see the future possibility (unless we, as wives, die first). Particularly we will be addressing the loss of a spouse.
We will write about the purpose in God’s plan for grief, the means of grace for our grief, how to relate to one who is grieving, and how the church is to minister to the widow.
We post this series with the desire and invitation that you join in this ministry with your own comments, and direct those who are grieving to this blog. We pray that our heavenly Father will speak to us through His Word, through Christ and His Spirit, in the next few articles; that we will hear from those who are in grief now, and from you who have experienced the Lord’s grace during your time of grief.