There are many kinds of grief. I have known many kinds of grief. I see people suffering under their own grief daily. Some embrace it, cling to it… make it their identity… refuse to surrender the burden to the ONE, the only one, who can carry it. Some suppress it, pretend it is not there. They suffer under confusion. Buried grief in the soul shows on the countenance of the face and is revealed through action… through our WALK.
I suppose in our culture, grieving is not a process we are good at. In any culture, mourning is not a process that will produce much of anything good without God. Without a place to take our grief, we are left simply trying to accept the reality of living in the fallen world. Without revelation from the WORD of God, we are at a loss to see any purpose or hope in our place of suffering.
I have a friend who lost her husband recently and she named her blog: Good Greif. That title strikes me two ways: First I chuckle at the thought of Charlie Brown’s exasperated phrase. Then I think, is grief good?
“Oh show me Lord the purpose for this grief that plagues me.”
That has been my cry for years. Well, it didn’t start out like that. It started out like, “Lord take this pain and grief from me. Help me… Heal me…” Then it turned into, “Lord show me the reason.”
I could give you a list of the things that grieve a person, but I don’t have to. You know your own heartache. Even if you have buried it deep, you know that you hurt. If you take a moment, you can probably identify that you have buried.
As for me, my grief and my season of grieving did not begin when my mother took her own life. That is the time when most would agree is the appropriate time to grieve. No, my season began when I realized that I had I had suffered trauma as a child and that I had an open wound in my soul. I spent a long season learning how to grieve what I had lost and pour out my burden on the Lord.
I think that is the point of transforming a worldly sorrow into a sorrow that brings salvation. It is all about WHO we are pouring our grief and heartache and pain on. I go back to Lamentations and to David the author of about 73 Psalms. The object of the lament is ALWAYS the Lord. If David was a contemporary song writer, he would have been writing some SAD songs. Like most song writers, he was working through his grief through his craft: music.
As a young person, I was always drawn to sad songs, so I suppose it makes sense that I would be drawn to the Psalms. But unlike the worldly way of broadcasting our misery so others can commiserate… relate to our suffering, the Psalmist’s grief provides what I think is a model for mourners.
David was suffering different kinds of grief. He was persecuted and pursued. He mourned the tragic death of many Godly men. He grieved over his own sin and the consequences there-of.
I think that is how my grieving happened. I grieved over wrongs done to me and senseless tragedy and then I grieved most bitterly over my own sin and the people I had wronged.
David poured his lament out on the Lord and yet in his grief, he was doggedly committed to the idea that God is good. Even as he accused God of forgetting about him, David reminded himself of the truth.
Psalms 13:1-6 says For the director of music. A psalm of David. How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? (2) How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me? (3) Look on me and answer, O LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death; (4) my enemy will say, "I have overcome him," and my foes will rejoice when I fall. (5) But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. (6) I will sing to the LORD, for he has been good to me.
Do you think God has forgotten you? Do you wonder how long this season of suffering will last? Cry out to the Lord in your grief. Remind yourself that it is God who saves you. God has unfailing love for you.
I think we are so afraid to say what we really think to the Lord. I think we are afraid to admit to God that we don’t think he is coming to our rescue. Let me tell you, when you tell God you think he is not coming to your rescue, you can bet he is going to prove you wrong. That moment of confession is the moment God will whisper to your heart.
I was speaking with a friend who is suffering with depression recently and I asked her if she was crying out to God and placing her burdens at his feet. She said that all she could really manage in the way of prayer was: HELP! This morning I chuckled when I was going over some of my favorite psalms. I saw one that begins with the word: HELP.
Psalms 12:1-8 For the director of music. According to sheminith. A psalm of David. Help, LORD, for the godly are no more; the faithful have vanished from among men. (2) Everyone lies to his neighbor; their flattering lips speak with deception. (3) May the LORD cut off all flattering lips and every boastful tongue (4) that says, "We will triumph with our tongues; we own our lips—who is our master?" (5) "Because of the oppression of the weak and the groaning of the needy, I will now arise," says the LORD. "I will protect them from those who malign them." (6) And the words of the LORD are flawless, like silver refined in a furnace of clay, purified seven times. (7) O LORD, you will keep us safe and protect us from such people forever. (8) The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men.
Is it true that EVERYONE lies and faithful men have vanished from among men? Well, no, but that is just where David was at. He was oppressed and pouring out his frustration on the Lord. He even used graphic words to tell the Lord that he wanted those fools to SHUT UP! I can even hear David saying, “Well they were like…. And I am like… well God says he’s gonna get you cuz he is ALL for the under-dog!”
This last part of this model of mourning is VERY important. Whatever your lament begins with… and whatever you pour out before the Lord, it should ALWAYS be directed at the Lord and it should always end with either a statement of the goodness of God or praises to Him.
The place we deposit our lament…. the receptacle of our cares is the Lord.
Psalms 55:22 says Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall.
What good does it do to pour our cares out on people? They cannot change your situation or bring peace to your conflicted soul. If they are believers it may serve the purpose of reminding you of the goodness of God or the promises he has for you in your situation. But the FIRST place we lay our burdens is on the Lord. He may give you people in your life who will help you carry that burden but all the solutions come from HIM. We need to remember that: all GOOD things come from God. He is the one who sustains us.
If you have hidden the word of the Lord in your heart, most likely, by the end of your lament, there will be a ray of light in your soul. Just the simple act of heart-felt confession of your burdens to the Lord can turn your negative attitude into an attitude of praise.
That is modeled in Psalm after Psalm begins like: My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death assail me. Fear and trembling have beset me; horror has overwhelmed me. I said, "Oh, that I had the wings of a dove! I would fly away and be at rest—(Psalms 55:4-6)
And end like: But I call to God, and the LORD saves me. (17) Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice. (18) He ransoms me unharmed from the battle waged against me, even though many oppose me. (22) Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall. (23) But you, O God, will bring down the wicked into the pit of corruption; bloodthirsty and deceitful men will not live out half their days. But as for me, I trust in you. Psalms 55:16-23
Even if that truth we cling to is just a small morsel, it is a crumb on a trail that will lead to the abundance of God. David grieved the persecution he suffered and yet his morsel of truth was that God will sustain those who cast their cares on Him. That tiny flame of truth can spread into a circle of flames that will surround you in even the darkest moments on the path.
Even if all we can manage to say to the Lord is: HELP. We have begun the practice of crying out to him.
I am so good at coming up with my own feeble solutions. I will spend hours of my day trying to work things out and yet fail to spend one MOMENT of my day crying out to the Lord: HELP! I have come up with charts and strategy and all kinds of my own solutions and yet now I see that when I seek the Lord for answers, all the puzzle pieces fall into place.
Whatever kind of grief you have, follow the model in scripture: Take it to the Lord, pour out your HONEST heart cry, and then remind yourself of a tiny bit of truth from scripture. Then you can watch that truth grown and swell in your heart until it crowds out the lies.