Pastoral Care, Chapter 7: Good Grief! – Part 2

The second reason grief can be good is because of what our faith promises us. Jesus said “Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.” Jesus would have us believe, as I have suggested, that it is actually a blessing to be able to mourn, to grieve over our losses because of what that says about us as persons. We can also be happy (another word for blessed) because of what we can learn about the comforting promises of God when, in our grief, we turn to God. The ancients understood this truth. Listen to the psalmist. “I had fainted,” said one, “unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord, be of good courage and He will strengthen your heart.”

Read again these familiar words, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for Thou are with me; Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me … “Hear the prophet, Nahum say, “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who put their trust in Him.” “Jeramiah had been called and sent by God to confront Israel because of their neglect of God and their double-dealing with their neighbors. The nation would not listen to the prophet, and fell. Listen to Jeramiah, “My soul is bereft of peace. I have forgotten what happiness is. Gone is my glory and my expectation from the Lord.” Have you ever had those feelings? Have you ever felt bereft of peace and that there was no use praying to God?

If you have, listen to Jeramiah as he works his way through his feelings and lamentations. He says, “My soul is bowed down within me but this I call to mind and therefore I have hope. The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases and His mercies never come to an end. The Lord is my portion says my soul, therefore I will hope in Him.”

Jeremiah was honest about his feelings but he was also honest about his faith in God. He knew what it was to grieve but not without hope. As persons of faith, we can do that and grief can be good because of what it can remind us of the faithfulness of God’s promises. As Christians, we do not have to get stuck on Good Friday with its crucifying experiences and the grief they bring. We have the assurance of Easter and the message of resurrection.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” Peter was able to say after the resurrection of Jesus. “By His great power we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead; and to the inheritance which is imperishable, undefiled and will never pass away…”

What Peter and the other disciples learned, and we can experience also, is that God’s power to raise up is not limited, nor reserved only for the end of our earthly lives. It is present and available to us in all of life and in all of our experiences. It is power which can lift us above our sins which sometimes are grieving us. It is a power which can lift up the broken pieces of a relationship and restore us. It is a power which can heal and help us to put persons and positions and things in a proper perspective.

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