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Friday, September 19, 2014

Making Room For Grief

Grief, more than anything, touches the deepest part of who we are.  What we do with grief can either tear us apart or open our eyes to hope we never knew existed.

            Grief happens when we lose something of value to us.  All of us live with unvoiced expectations.  Sometimes they are unvoiced because we don’t even realize we have them.  Expectations we will not have to bury our children.  Expectations our marriage will last.  Expectations we will live a long life.  Expectations our community of faith will hold together.  Expectations we will always have beauty around us.  Only when life doesn’t turn out the way we expected do we realize how deeply we held onto these secret hopes and dreams.
            Right now we are helplessly watching the largest fire in recent memory in El Dorado County ravage the wilderness we have taken for granted.  There is a sense of relief that the fire has so far been turned back from destroying homes and taking lives  Once that relief is over the thought of the loss of the beauty we have taken for granted has overwhelmed many people.  The most common emotional response has been anger – especially directed toward the person who was arrested for starting the fire.  If you want to get an idea of what unbridled anger sounds like, read what people are saying about him on social media sites.  This type of anger is what will destroy us.  James warned us about this:  Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God.” (James 1:19–20, ESV)
            James lets us know there is an anger in us that isn’t any good.  It is the anger that turns into bitterness.  Bitterness destroys us and those we come into contact with.  But the Bible also tells us there is an anger that is righteous.  It is right and understandable to experience anger when beauty is destroyed, when cancer or mental illness destroy a life, when families disintegrate under the weight of divorce.  It is not as God intended and God grieves over the brokenness in the world we live in – a brokenness we unfortunately are part of perpetuating.  And yes, God gets angry about it.
            There is another path on the other side of anger.  We don’t have to go down the path of bitterness, we can choose to go down the path of hope.  But it requires us to look to the One who is bigger than our circumstances.  Paul was trying to get this across to the early church in his letter to the church in Rome:  If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied.” (1 Corinthians 15:19, ESV)
            Paul reminded them (and us) that there is something beyond what we can see and sometimes comprehend.  Hope in this world will always disappoint us.  If your faith in Jesus is only that you will have a “good life” it isn’t going to work out very well for you.  In fact, it is almost guaranteed you are going to go down the path of bitterness.
            An essential part of the Jesus story is that he is going to make all things new.  From beginning to end the Bible is full of examples of this storyline.  We screw up, evil seems to win, everything looks hopeless, we are crushed.  And then, a flower blooms in an unexpected place.  It is the story of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.
            You’re going to experience grief in this life.  But are you willing to look for the flower and embrace the hope of renewed beauty in your grief?  Make room in your grief for the grace and beauty of Jesus to show up.  I don’t know how long it will take, but I know it will bloom.  And one day, it will be forever.

Peace and grace,


1 comment:

MJV said...

Good and timely word for many I know, David. Will be sharing it. Thank you, and I'm praying for God's mercy with the fire so near you all.