“The people who walk in darkness will see a great light. For those who live in a land of deep darkness, a light will shine.” – Isaiah 9:2
There was a story in the newspaper about a young couple who lost their baby boy during delivery. The loss of a child is one of the most intense and debilitating events we can experience. The parents were paralyzed and stunned. Just days ago they were laughing and doing everyday things and assuming that their lives stretched before them in spans of many, many years. And then suddenly . . . it all stopped. Hope seems so far away as they leave the hospital with empty arms and walk by an empty nursery. Then standing at the side of a tiny casket. All the while thinking that it’s not supposed to be this way.
Losing someone you love can cut into your heart so much that it forever redefines who you are and how you think. In the book of Job, we see a man who lost everything — his livestock, servants, and all ten of his children. In one fell swoop, his wealth, security, and family were stripped away. Yet, in response to unfathomable circumstances, “Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground to worship. He said “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be naked when I leave. The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!” (Job 1:20–21).
Grief can last for some time. We typically won’t walk through the pain or loss in a couple of days. Job certainly didn’t. In fact, we typically don’t feel the full weight of our grief until the shock wears off, the meals stop coming, friends stop calling, and the world seems to move on while we are left with our pain, with the daily reminders of our loss. But it’s in that moment that we can truly experience the depths of God’s love and goodness towards us.
It’s here that we come to know more deeply that Jesus, “a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief” (Isaiah 53:3), is not unfamiliar and distant in our pain. He has given us His Spirit, who “…helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.” (Romans 8:26).
Larry Crabb, in his book Shattered Dreams, says: “Our shattered dreams are never random. They are always a piece in a larger puzzle, a chapter in a larger story. Pain is a tragedy. But it’s never only a tragedy. For the Christian, it’s always a necessary mile on the long journey to joy. The suffering caused by shattered dreams must not be thought of as something to relieve if we can or endure if we must. It’s an opportunity to be embraced, a chance to discover our desire for the highest blessing God wants to give us, an encounter with himself.”
- Grief is a process: agree or disagree and why?
- What do we need to do to help ourselves through the process of grief? What do we need to do to help others through the grief process?