<<heartache, anguish>>

This is a natural emotional response to loss – the ‘why?’ situations of life such as when someone close to us dies, we suffer a serious traumatic experience, our much-anticipated expectations crumble, something of great significance does not work out as planned, or we experience a life threatening illness or disability. We can also experience grief through personal failure and being in anguish of spirit over sin; this should lead to Godly sorrow, bringing repentance and a desire to start again, doing better next time (Mt 26:75). Do I have any such regrets about wrong values followed and bad choices made in the past? If there is genuine repentance and determination to walk in His ways He will bring good from this experience although the consequences of such actions remain as reminders and incentives to change.

The various stages or responses of grief include denial, anger, bargaining (trying to negotiate terms), and depression. Grief ideally ends with acceptance, leading to wholeness and emerging stronger in character (because of the experience that had the potential to destroy us), so do not view these events as negative experiences.

How we deal with grief is often pivotal to our character. Don’t try and suppress grief, there is a legitimate time of mourning (Eccl 3:4). Work through the grief so you do not bury ‘unfinished business’ that will hinder the path to wholeness. Then you can re-engage in life and the ‘new’ future, in which you can remember the loss without being immobilized by it. Grief will actually bring about emotional healing. Being occupied by suitable activity is often beneficial; ministering to others, especially, helps prevent the self-pity syndrome.

As grief is released through crying and sharing your feelings with others, it helps to overcome the very real sense of loss, and enables you to recover and readjust to life. God created our emotions and even Jesus cried and expressed His inner turmoil to the Father prior to His crucifixion, knowing the tremendous ordeal He had to face (Mk 14:33-36, 15:34; Jn 11:35). Our loving God allows what is

Grief needs closure to enable moving on with life

ultimately for our best and nothing can separate us from His love, and so even in the midst of our pain we can “Be joyful always…giving thanks in all circumstances for it is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (Rom 8:28,37-39; 1 Thes 5:16,18). David was confident, God was on his side and would remember the ordeals he had gone through, stating "In God I trust; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?" (Ps 23:4, 56:8,9,11).

Although this is hard, when Jesus is our Saviour and heaven is our future home, all of life’s grief events are preparing us for eternity (1 Pet 1:3-9). We need to focus more on the "anchor of hope" we have in Christ than the earthly loss experienced (1 Thes 4:13,14; Tit 1:2; Heb 6:19,20). Although, one day God will remove forever all traces of sorrow, we should be experiencing, even now in this imperfect painful world, the ministry of Jesus healing our broken hearts so we are not over-come and destroyed by grief (Lk 4:18; Rev 7:17, 21:4). We are to “Rejoice with those that rejoice, and cry with those that cry” (Rom 12:15). We “Carry each other’s burdens” as we relate and enter into the challenging situations others are experiencing, by showing compassion, comfort, help and praying with and for them (Gal 6:2). This is not meddling or gossiping, rather it is standing alongside, “Doing to them as we would they do to us” if the roles were reversed (Lk 6:31). “The Lord is close to the broken-hearted and saves those crushed in spirit…The Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” (Ps 34:18; 2 Cor 1:3,4). Be available to those who are hurting, for life is a series of losses, tears of grief and then handling of new scenarios.

God does not willingly bring affliction or grief to people (Lam 3:32,33).  Yet through it we can come into a rich relationship in Him, if we react correctly, allowing it to make us better not bitter. Grief and suffering will be swallowed up by the eternal glory produced (2 Cor 4:17). Hold to the promises of God

Grieving shows you love

– His love for you won’t allow you to experience more than you can handle (1 Cor 10:13). Grief is similar to discipline – it is not pleasant at the time, yet is beneficial in the long-term through a transformed character (Heb 12:11).  Even the pathway to heaven is one of grief involving denying self, dying to the old nature and living in newness of life in Christ (Lk 9:23-25; Rom 6:6-8; 2 Cor 5:15; Gal 2:20). Walking in obedience to God does not exempt us from suffering and grief, yet He has promised to more than compensate us (Mt 19:29; Act 9:16,14:22, 20:23). We also have the Holy Spirit who comforts us (Jn 14:16).

Isaiah speaks about the forthcoming Christ as “A man of sorrows...He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows…” (Isa 53:3,4). He was grieved over the hardness of people's hearts in refusing to accept Him as the Son of God (Mk 3:5; Lk 19:41). The Bible’s invitation is to “Cast all your cares and burdens on Him because He cares for you” being familiar Himself with suffering (Mt 11:28; Heb 4:15; 1 Pet 5:7).

Those that continue to rejected Christ will experience ultimate and everlasting grief in hell, although it is not God’s desire for them (Mt 13:41,42, 18:14; 2 Pet 3:9).

We can grieve or cause the Holy Spirit within to be sorrowful by acting in un-Christian ways, not walking closely with God, or rejecting His leading, which is disobedience (Eph 4:25-31). We must be mindful of what we do or allow in our lives so we do not bring Him distress.

See also: broken-hearted, comfort, emotions, empathy, focus, hope, hurts, loss, self-pity, sorrow, tears, thanksgiving, weeping, why.