Grief is a funny thing. I can’t think of many who haven’t experienced grief in some form or another. So let’s talk about it today.
Grief is a natural response to a loss. It could be the loss of a loved one, the loss of a relationship, or the loss of a dream. Grief is a complex weaving of emotions that accompany the loss of what was or sometimes the emptiness of what wasn’t.
I grieved that I did not grow up being the apple of my daddy’s eye. My friend Angela grieved the loss of investing in a thirty-five-year marriage that ended in divorce. Gail grieved the loss of her son in the chilling waters of the James River. Pat grieved the loss of her unborn child by her own decision. Grieving is part of the healing process.
In her classic book, On Death and Dying, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross notes five stages of grief:
- Stage One: Denial and Isolation
- Stage Two: Anger
- Stage Three: Bargaining
- Stage Four: Depression
- Stage Five: Acceptance
But for us who know Jesus Christ, there is a sixth stage:
Oh, sweet friend, Jesus died on that cross, but then he rose again. Jesus left his grave so that you could leave yours. Click & Tweet!
Your dreams of what you had hoped your story would be may have died on the cross of unmet expectations or unwanted violation, but your dreams can rise again. They may even become someone else’s inspiration to rise up from their grave of broken dreams as well.
Each of the women I just named mourned her losses but eventually moved on to write new chapters of her story. After a time, we all stopped lamenting what was not and started looking for the blessing of what is. That doesn’t mean we don’t miss the child or lament the loss, but we don’t get stuck there.
In the Bible, the prophet Samuel grieved the loss of what could have been had King Saul obeyed rather than ignored God. He literally went to bed and pulled the covers up over his sad head. But after a while, God told him it was time to get back up and keep moving forward. God had the pen in his hand and was ready to write the next chapters. God said to Samuel,
How long will you mourn for Saul, since I have rejected him as king over Israel? Fill your horn with oil and be on your way; I am sending you to Jesse of Bethlehem. I have chosen one of his sons to be king. (1 Samuel 16:1)
It was time for Samuel to get out of bed and for God’s resurrection plan to move forward. God had chosen a new king. He was still writing Israel’s story. He was still writing Samuel’s. He’s still writing yours.
That doesn’t mean that we don’t hurt any longer, but that the wound no longer controls our decisions or actions. We’ve stopped slapping away God’s hand from the pen and look forward to seeing how he will write the rest of the storyline. Sometimes our healing process includes counselors or therapists, sometimes it includes medication to get us through the worst of it, but it always includes the healing of Jesus Christ and our cooperation with the Holy Spirit to get back up.
Perhaps you need to grieve for losses in your life. Here are a few:
- Loss of innocence
- Loss of a marriage
- Loss of a relationship with your mother
- Loss of a relationship with your father
- Loss of employment
- Loss of a spouse
- Loss of a child
- Loss of friendship
- Loss of hopes and dreams
I love that God spoke to Joshua in a time of disappointment: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9 NIV).
Joshua and the people of Israel had experienced a time of mourning and disappointment, but God told them it was time to get back up and keep moving forward. Not only that, He promised He would be with them every step of the way.
We grieve, but not as those without hope. When tragedy tears our hearts out, when untimely death cracks the foundation of our faith, when abuse mars all that is good, we mourn. We grieve the loss. But we mustn’t allow the story to stop there. I type these words with tears in my eyes because I have lived them. Hear me when I say, it’s going to be okay—you’re going to be okay. God has more to write. Resurrection is on the way.
Father, I pray that You will show me Your resurrection power today. Help me to not get stuck in the disappointing parts of my story, but to mourn the loss and then move on. Show me how to use what I’ve gone through to help someone else. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
What does resurrection in your most difficult chapters look like? This is not an easy question, but I believe you can dig deep and ask God to show you the answer.
You don’t have to be burden and weighed down by your story any longer. In When You Don’t Like Your Story: What if Your Worst Chapters Could Become Your Greatest Victories I show you how that pain can be transformed into a great purpose!
Have you already read When You Don’t Like Your Story and thought of several people who need to hear this message? If so, order from www.sharonjaynes.com and I’ll personalize it for you. Simply order and then email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with your friend’s name and I’ll personalize it you or for your friend(s).