May 24, 2022
I would not be surprised if most of you would associate the words “good grief” with the cartoon Charlie Brown. The phrase might generate cartoon images in your head of a little yellow bird with an over-sized head doing loop-do-loops in the sky or a beagle hound laughing and dancing on top of his doghouse. The past few months haven’t felt like lighthearted cartoons which help us laugh. For many on our staff and in our church, recent months have stirred up grief and loss. Our church has lost a staff member to an aggressive cancer and another staff member to a terrible accident. Personally, these events weigh heavy on me. In addition, I have been grieving with of groups who have experienced pain, loss, and the brokenness of our world. What do we do with grief? Is there such a thing as good grief?
For believers there is such a thing as good grief. One can grieve well with purpose. Scripture can inform the way we view grief. The writer of Ecclesiastes tells the reader that there is a time to weep and a time to mourn so we know there is a time and place for grief. (Ecc. 3:4) Jesus would go on to say, “Blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted.” (Matt. 5:4) For children of God, loss becomes opportunity for an awareness of what God provides. However, Paul helps readers of 1 Thessalonians to approach grief with a better framework. He distinguished how the world grieves compared to how believers grieve. According to Paul the world grieves without hope; believers grieve with hope. (1 Thess. 4:13) Paul described hope and comfort, which is rooted in the return of Christ and his care for believers.
For believers, grief can be more than just loss and pain. Grief can also be an expression of our longing for Christ to return and finish his redemptive work. Christians grieve as people who are aware of Christ's return and his work of making all things new. Our grief has value and purpose because God has been at work within our lives making us aware that something better awaits us. As we experience the brokenness of the world, we can cling to the reality that God has better plans in place. If grief is something which we withhold from God and the hope he offers, we may be more content with our broken world than the coming kingdom of God. There is good grief which finds its home among God’s people. Grieve well, friends.
Where believers may experience grief personally, believers are also called to be a people who grieve with those who grieve. Paul calls for believers to, “rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15) Why must believers identify with other people in their pain and loss? If Jesus came down and identified himself with broken people in a broken world offering hope, shouldn’t believers do the same? The same Jesus who wept over Lazarus with Mary and Martha also looked out on people with compassion because he saw the struggle of the human experience and their need of God. Believers grieve with those who grieve because it follows the example given us in Jesus. Readers of 2 Corinthians 1 are reminded by Paul that they have been comforted by God that they might comfort others. If you find any comfort in the upcoming return of Christ and his work of making all things new, share that comfort freely with others.
As Jesus took on flesh and came to earth that we might have hope, perhaps believers can put themselves in the position of others, empathize with the difficulty of the human experience, and grieve with those who grieve. If believers identify themselves with other people and grieve with them in hope, our grief can be good grief. Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus, come.
Pastor McCain thank you for your healing words.
Matthew 5:4. Blessed are those that mourn for they SHALL be Comforted.
Grieving is good for us Pastor Jesse. Thanks for reminding us of that. So often when I hear others talk about Pastor Roger, they say, "Roger is fine. It is us who remain here on earth who are struggling with the loss," And I keep remembering Chuck's service where it was said, "Chuck would wake up and see us - and ask Am I still here?" It was obvious Chuck knew that a better life awaited him in heaven. Those who are already with Christ are healed and worshipping our Lord continuously. When I grieve, I think of how soon we will be with them and our communion wiht God will be perfected.