Throughout the last few days I have been contemplating how we as Christians are to grief. Too often the typical Christian response is to live as if the pain of this world does not affect them. We console ourselves by saying our loved ones are going to a better place or God will redeem all the paint that comes at us. These may be true, Jesus tells us, “Blessed are those that mourn for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). The comfort God wants to give us is not by convincing ourselves that we shouldn’t be sad, but it is through the process of grieving. And so, here are six steps to deal with grief.
1. Every Major Change in Life Brings Grief
Grief is a normal and natural response to any loss or major change. Death and divorce obviously brings grief. Kids going off to college, loss of job, and moving to a new town also bring a level of grief. Even good things lead us into grief. Getting married and having kids, while bringing great joy, also cause grief in way of the loss of freedom.
2. Don’t Deny the Pain
Grief ignored stores up pain for another day. Unresolved grief can obviously lead to depression, but it can also be an entry point for sickness and disease. Our body’s are not designed to carry grieve; we need to deal with it. God designed the grief process for us to deal with the changes in life. God created seasons in life. There is a time for mourning and a time to dance (Ecclesiastes 3:4).
Christians feel a need to defend God, which makes the griever feel guilty so that they are not allowed to grieve. God cares more about you than His reputation. He went to the cross for you not caring what others may say. Be honest with God. He typically only heals what we give to Him. Grief is not a sign of weakness; only an invitation of God to experience Him more.
3. Allow Yourself to Feel
Knowing grief is an invitation from God allows us to have hope to enter into the pain. It has an end when you engage the process. Grief is a conflicting ball of emotions. It is not just sadness. There is pain, anger, relief, hope, and even joy. You have to allow yourself to feel in order to untangle all the emotions. If you don’t allow yourself to feel, you can’t hear what God is trying to communicate through it.
Grief is not something to be cured or fixed. It is a process. Allow yourself to cry as it opens you up to get in touch with your heart. Tears water the soil of your heart allowing you to feel again.
4. Invite Jesus into the Grief
Grief is designed by God to heal the broken-hearted therefore He wants to enter into the process. When you are in the place where you can feel the emotions, ask Jesus to interpret what is going on. He is always doing something and He is always working out all things for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28). Many times we are struggle through grief because we are trying to interpret the situation without Him. Our wife dies, and we tell ourselves that she is in a better place. Maybe, but our hearts are in pain because we wish she was here with us and the kids. We need to hear Jesus’ view because His words bring life (John 6:68). This is not vain imagination; it is the voice of our loving God who is for us and not against us (Romans 8:31).
5. Choose to Believe God’s View of Life
Jesus said that He is the truth and the truth will set us free, but what many forget is that He precedes this statement with a condition, “if you hold to my teaching” (John 8:31-32). Neither hearing nor studying the words of Christ set us free, we must make a choice to believe them. You might have had terrible things happen to you. Your fiancé may have been hit by a drunk driver. Your uncle may have raped you. Terrible things do happen on this side of heaven. There is one truth that has been most helpful to me:
“Truth is whatever Jesus says is true.”
Therefore whenever you experience pain in your grief, get Jesus’ view of it and choose to believe it. This is the path to intimacy with Christ and where true life resides.
6. Seek Others to Bring You Hope
The Christian life is not intended to be lived in isolation. It may feel like our natural desire to self-heal, but it is ultimately the enemy’s goal to isolate us. Both the devil and God know that we are vulnerable alone. We need each other to speak God’s truth in difficult times. Alone we are susceptible to demonic lies about our self, God, others, and life in general. Depression and suicidal thoughts fester in isolation. The body of Christ is a gift to us. If you are in grief, be around other believes who can support your with their faith. Don’t feel as if you are a burden, it is the joy of believers to be in use for our Lord, and you will be called on to comfort others in the future (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). It is assumed you will receive from God what you need.
In closing, God loves you. He is for you. Grief is an invitation for more of Him—His extended hand to help you through heartache. Grief will stay with you as long as you don’t deal with it. But as you enter the process, it does have an end. There will be a time you are look back at those events without feeling the pain. Not only is it possible; it is a reason Jesus came (Isaiah 61:1-3).