John 11:35 Jesus wept.
Grief is anticipated as in cancer. Grief is traumatic as in school shootings, suicide, or the Twin Towers on 911. Grief is unexpected as in car accidents, SIDS, miscarriage, or heart attacks. Grief is guilty relief as in Alzheimer’s, dementia of old age, and chronic painful, debilitating diseases. There is childhood grief, adolescent grief, grief from aging and disability, and more. Grief is complicated when multiple losses happen in short succession. Grief is experienced repeatedly throughout the life experience of a child who loses a parent– for all at holidays, and life’s milestones. Fire destroys a home and precious belongings evaporate. Loss.
Marriage ends a childhood. Loss. Birth ends freedom for the parents as another becomes primary. Loss. Good things cause loss too. Tornadoes, hurricanes, volcanoes, tsunamis lead to loss of livelihood, homes, friends, and ways of life. Not all loss is death. Loss causes grief! Grief is our common experience. We are all born with an expiration date–at least to this life. Even Jesus.
I have studied grief: thanatology. All it did was confirm I am not totally weird. What I did learn is this: I was never meant to experience grief in the mind of God and this is why life East of Eden (Genesis 2:4-3:24, 4:16) is so incredibly difficult. We simply were not created with the mental capacity to process death and loss so we spend our lifetime struggling, trying to find our way home: Back to the Garden. (Luke 15:11-32)
Is your heart broken because of loss or death of a loved one or because your choices are having dire consequences to you and others? You are not alone in the experience. Scripture tells us to “cast ALL our burdens on Him.” (I Peter 5:7-10) This is the part only you and I can do. No one can cast your burdens for you. Others can pray. Others will pray, bind the enemy, and storm Heavens gates for you but you alone must throw your heartache/heartbreak, anger, bitterness, and disillusionment to the only One who can truly take them and make all things new, turn evil into good, and mold you into the image of Christ. (Isaiah 64:8, Jeremiah 18,Revelation 21:5, Romans 8:28-29, II Corinthians 3:18)
Cast My Cares On You by Finding Favor
Easy? Heck no! It is hard every day to grieve! Grief can feel like fear; like you are drowning. This is why “this IS NOT my home.” (Hebrews 13:14, I Peter 2:11-12) We are looking forward to the place where all is set right! (Ecclesiastes 3:11) Until then, we look up to the Author and Perfecter of our faith. (Hebrews 12:2)
II Chronicles 16:9 For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him.
I continued to see more loved ones added to the cloud seats: My sweet friends whose beauty shines and their laughter now rings through the halls of glory, my swimming coach, other family members, neighbors, a baby I never held, church members, and so, so many others. The Greek word for witness is martyron from which we get our word martyr. A witness does three things: “Tells what he knows, shares experiences, and is loyal.” I pray you have remembered the many witnesses who have paved the path you now walk with the spiritual stones. They have joined the Hall of Faith (Hebrews 11)—a pretty awesome fraternity. If we live long enough, we will have more join the cloud seats giving witness to our lives. Hear them cheer! Hear the applause of heaven! Run your race my friends. Run to win. (Philippians 3:12, II Corinthians 5:7)
Yes, we will fall, we will cry, we will lose our way from time to time, but, our witnesses not only watch, they pray for us before God’s throne and our living witnesses are observing our every move. (Romans 8:25-27, II Corinthians 5, Ephesians 6:18) I John 3:2 reminds us: “we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears,[a] we shall be like him, for we shall see Him as he is.” Until then, we can be assured as the psalmist wrote, “From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind 14 from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth—.” (Psalm 33:13-14) And isn’t the LORD’s witness of our life the most important witness we have?
As we grieve may we turn our hearts toward Home for guidance and healing. As you grieve individually may your eyes look up to Him alone. (Psalm 123:1) This is all temporary, and eternity is on the horizon when we will be reunited. (Matthew 24:35) This step of faith is patience.
No More Night by David Phelps