This may seem like an “odd” article topic for November and December. Actually, it is very on point. So many struggle with God, family, and others during the holidays because of unresolved grief and loss. This is the year to accept God’s deliverance.
If we take the time to search our life, at some point we will find one or more places of debilitating grief. It is most likely a safe thing to say that no one gets through a lifetime without an event or two that brings us to our knees in sorrow and anguish. This sorrow may stay with us like a heavy, wet blanket for many, many years. Our souls become seriously dampened and grief separates us from our rightful godly joy.
We grieve for many reasons: death of a loved one, especially an untimely one or senseless accident or tragedy; divorce, the staggering loss of hopes and dreams of what “could have been” and the feelings of misery and unhappiness; pain of the derailed career or beloved job causing us to make serious life changes that we did not want to make; heartache from relationships that were so very dear to us and, for some turn of events, are wantonly destroyed. We may have expectations in life that we have consciously or unconsciously listed as vital to our lives which have not happened, and we are greatly saddened by those lost dreams and desires.
From one who has a strong, vital, and faithful relationship with God to one who barely acknowledges God, the temptation in grief is to blame God for the cause of and the overwhelming grief that we succumb to. Blaming God then turns into being mad at God, vilifying Him, and turning our backs on His lovingkindness. We just cannot seem to fathom lovingkindness when we are blinded by sorrow. At this point, our ability to function seems gone, and we exist day to day with no idea how to get out from under the pain of grief. Some, very regrettably, never get better from this. Others find a way to get back to God and healing. What makes the difference? How do we go from sadness and loss to joy and victory?
There are several things we can do. These are pre-emptive and maintenance oriented.
- Psalm 119:11 “Your word I havetreasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You.”
- Train yourself to read Scripture and pray every day, and your love for God will grow incredibly. Hear the Word by listening to audio recordings of the Scriptures and teachings. This lifestyle is always recommended, and we tend to let this slide being too busy with work or family to bother. An athlete cannot run a sprint in any race if he has not trained. How can we deal with serious incidents in our lives with no foundation of the Word in our hearts and focused prayer that is our default?
- 1 Peter 5:8 “Be of soberspirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”
- We need to understand from the Scriptures where evil events come from and what God does and does not do. When horrible events happen, having a sound foundation of God’s Word in our mind and heart enables us to act and react from a godly perspective. Will we feel pain? Anguish? Sorrow? Yes, certainly we will, but we will be able to discern what is truly happening and apply that knowledge and wisdom. By allowing God to strengthen us, we are able to stay the course through the direst of circumstances.
- 1 John 5:3 “Forthis is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.”
- Loving God and obedience to Him are the same. When we put to rest our sin patterns, then we put a clamp on a cut artery. Sin just causes for us and others more and more pain. At the time, we think we are able to “handle” it and our threshold for pain is astronomical. When we begin to allow ourselves to see reality, we are grief-stricken at all the losses we have caused and opportunities lost. Sin patterns rob us of years of living for God and godly relationships. Whether the sin is addictions or gossiping, sin takes us away from the joy of being in God’s presence and keeps us from being loving and obedient. When trouble does hit, we are weak in faith because we know we have not been obedient and loving to our Heavenly Father. We become distant and feel unworthy of His help, or we turn against Him and blame Him for our problems. Neither thought is good. So, learning to be obedient out of love for God is the pattern of behavior and standard of our heart that we want to cultivate every day. When adversity strikes, we are ready with the fundamentals of obedience of faith, prayer, and Scripture.
- Psalm 55:4 and 5, 16 and 17 “Myheart is in anguish within me, and the terrors of death have fallen upon me. Fear and trembling come upon me, and horror has overwhelmed me.
As for me, I shall call upon God, and the Lord will save me. Evening and morning and at noon, I will complain and murmur, and He will hear my voice.”
- We can pour out our heart to God. He wants to listen and to help because He LOVES YOU. It is not being rebellious or unthankful to have an honest heart-to-heart talk with God about how awful we feel. It’s when we whine and complain all the time that is sinful. David certainly cried out to God on many occasions for help to sustain him through very difficult physical and emotional times. At the end of the plea for help, David would allow God to comfort Him. Learning to allow God to comfort us starts as a child being comforted by parents. If we missed out on that, God will still comfort you. Just ask and be willing to open up to receive His loving comfort. When we are struggling, we need to read the Word and cry out to God, and God will give us comfort. During prayer He will tenderly give us what we need to hear and feel.
- Psalm 34:18 “TheLord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
- Do not give up. Continue to persevere and push into God. Keep yourself around people who are going to understand your pain and encourage you to keep doing the hard part of letting go of the grief. Self-discipline is needed to make ourselves push through the times when we want to give up, pull down the blinds, and turn out the lights. When we let go of the grieving, we get our joy back. It can happen in an instant or may be a process of change over time. People many times use letting go of helium balloons as a metaphor for letting go of our sorrows. It is a conscious decision to let the balloon string go. Ask God to help you. He will heal your heart through the life and death and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah.
God loves you. He gave His Son for you. His desire for you is joy and a victorious life now and for eternity. He does not promise us that pain – even horrible pain – will not happen in our lives, but He does promise us victory over that pain now and in the future. Be grounded, stand firm in God no matter what happens. Overcoming sorrow and grief can be very difficult to face. Experiencing the love, care, and comfort of God will bring us joy and victory.