“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven…a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…” Ecc. 4:1,4
One of the blessed byproducts of suffering is learning to grieve. In my case grieving well does not always come naturally. My temperament is much more prone to want to move on rather than move through grief. Seasons of brokenness teach me that grieving is not only a necessary part of the process but also a way to know my Savior better. After all, he was a “man of sorrows and acquainted with grief…” (Is. 53:3-5) He wept over the effects of sin in the world and over the hurt it caused His children (Luke 19:41, John 11:35, Heb 5:7).
Experiencing deep sorrow is part of the human experience. When sin entered the world, it brought sadness and pain. Those feelings accompany so many life situations- cancer/serious medical diagnoses, heartbreak, consequences of poor decisions- both ours and those of others, job loss, uncertainty, ongoing unmet longings, miscarriage, divorce, death. Just this week heartbreaking events in our country and around the world cause us all to weep. These things, and so many more, bring with them the realization we are living in a fallen world. Most of all, it causes us to need Jesus.
Grieving, I have learned, does not mean I’m a perpetual weepy mess wallowing in hopelessness. As the Bible reminds us “we do not grieve as those who have no hope…” (1 Thes 4:14). But it does mean I do not deny my emotions and when the tears come from disappointment and heartache, I let them fall.
Sometimes it’s misty eyes over the course of several days and sometimes it’s buckets at a time. And when I need to have the ugly cry- the kind where you make all kinds of heaving noises and you wonder if the neighbor might hear and feel like they need to check to make sure there hasn’t been a serious accident- you let it rip.
As believers we also have the privilege of entering into others’ grief. I’ve come alongside many hurting friends during their trying seasons. I’m the first to admit I’ve gotten it wrong so many times. It’s hard to really know what to say to someone hurting. We feel like we don’t have the right words and often times we just don’t. The challenge for us is to remain in that tension and realize that often all that is needed is a heartfelt “I’m so sorry. This is incredibly hard.”
Yesterday I learned one of my very dearest friends is moving from Houston to another city. We have been close friends for over 20 years and for the past 8 years we have lived alongside each other, walking through many joys and hurts, being there as our families have grown and being each other’s cheerleaders. Her family’s move is a new grief to me which will take a while to process.
But instead of washing over it, trying to move on and telling myself it’s all fine, I’m going to let myself be sad. I’m going to grieve what I’ll be missing and I’ll cry when needed. Simultaneously I’ll choose to praise our Lord and Maker who is sovereign over all things– including this move– and rest in knowing He is going to work it all out for their good, His glory and my good too.
So let’s encourage each other to grieve well and choose to be an example to the world that Christians are not a bunch of Pollyannas who shield our disappointments from the world. Instead, let’s learn how to grieve with hope as we press on in this challenging world of hurts and look to Jesus who will one day restore all things and wipe every tear from our eyes.