God is in Our Grieving

This article first appeared in The Southeast Outlook.

Isn’t it amazing how God always seems to meet us right where we are? He can take something we hear or read, or even a few words from a conversation and cause it to speak to us personally, just when we need it most.

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The dawning of a new year is like a clean slate, renewing our hope in the unspoken promise of a better marriage, a more connected family or a healthier lifestyle. A new year beckons us to leave the past behind and set our sights on all the things that could lead to a more fulfilling life.

The last few months of 2018 I began a journey that has carried over into this new year. I started down the path of grieving; grieving for people and relationships lost, for things that didn’t turn out quite the way I had planned, and for any other loss that may have occurred which I neglected to grieve properly.

The purpose of grief is to allow us to work through our feelings, thoughts and memories associated with the many changes and losses that naturally occur while doing life. The goal and intention of grieving well is a healthier life – emotionally, relationally and spiritually through Christ, who gifted us with the ability to grieve when life gets messy.
It appears that we have forgotten how to grieve as a society. We have overlooked the importance of grieving well. It probably wasn’t intentional. It just sort of happened because hey, we are busy! But maybe more importantly, we don’t like to feel the pain that loss or change can bring. We don’t like the feelings of sadness or loneliness or anger. We seem to have forgotten that God created us to experience all our emotions. Even the ones we don’t want to feel, the ones we sometimes avoid at all costs. Grieving takes time and attention.

I believe that God has brought me to the awareness of my need to grieve, but I don’t think I’m the only one! While telling friends about this process that I am going through, I am realizing that many of the people I talk with are uncomfortable with grief – mine and theirs. Don’t get me wrong! It’s not like I’m walking around in sackcloth and ashes. When the subject comes up naturally, I sense the uneasiness because of the topic. Maybe they don’t fully understand why we need to grieve. Many don’t. Whatever the reasons may be, we have become a society that avoids grief and pain.

God longs for us to find restoration, freedom and wholeness that only He can bring, oftentimes through grieving, but not just for our own well-being, so we can be vessels of love and hope. So that we can help bring restoration to others, by sharing our stories and pointing them to the only One who can provide complete wholeness.
The sermon series at Southeast Christian Church, After Further Review, delivered by Senior Pastor Dave Stone, and Teaching Pastor Kyle Idleman, came just when I needed it. This series has helped me to see that God is in my grieving. That He is with me as I grieve, and He brought me to this place in life in order to get me to the next – whole, healed and fully engaged.

Listening to Kyle give an overview of the Beatitudes in the first sermon, First + 10, caused me to reflect on all the struggles I encountered in 2018. I remembered too, the struggles of others that seemed so overwhelming. The three keys that Kyle called “Jesus’ Vision for Your Life” are so very relevant in all areas, especially when things become difficult and spiral out of control.
Those keys are:
I can’t.
You can.
God, help me.

What if we came to the realization that we can’t do this on our own, every time our journeys take an unexpected downward turn? We have the promise that He will never leave us. Joshua 1:5 tells us – No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.
God desires to hear those three little words, “God, help me” acknowledging that when we are weak, He is strong. He doesn’t need to hear them in order to work on our behalf. He knows that we need to say them, to put our trust in Him.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted (Matthew 5:4) Dave illustrated this on a ladder no less, as the steps to finding joy in Christ. When we grieve, God is there, giving us the comfort we need to heal in order to experience His joy.

The Beatitudes don’t quite fit in today’s culture. However, we’ve all heard story after story of those who have found restoration and redemption during complete brokenness, coming face to face with the fact that they couldn’t fix the situation on their own. It is through failure and disappointments that we can begin to clearly see that in our weakness, He is strong. It is often during the most painful times of life, that we come to know with assurance that God can. And not only can He, but He has been there all along, waiting for us to ask for His help.

I can’t. Truly, I can’t do this on my own. He can though! We see it again and again, in His word, and in real-life situations all around us. “God, help me” sometimes a desperate whisper on the lips of those who have experienced total defeat is all it takes to witness the life-changing power of God’s eternal love.

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:3). The poor in spirit- brokenness, messiness, and without hope. Brokenness proceeds wholeness. We can only be strong when we admit our weaknesses and allow Jesus to be the one who is strong in us, for us, and through us.

Those three simple keys can make all the difference.
I can’t.
You can.
God, help me.

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