Grief—deep sorrow. We have all felt this pain at some point in our lives. I have had my share of grief recently as I experienced the loss of my father, grandfather and brother in a matter of months. Grief is not always about a physical loss. Sometimes grief is the sorrow over what has been lost in your life: toxic relationships that will never have a white picket fence ending; toxic choices we have made and the resulting consequences; or even toxicity in the workplace. I have experienced all of these recently. In the process I have learned that grief takes time and space to heal. Healing from grief is learning to “rebuild around the loss.”
The book of Job is about a grieving man who lost everything he had—his family, his livestock, his transportation (assuming camels were a form of transportation), many servants, and his own health. The only thing spared was his life. Instead of cursing God after losing all he had, Job “fell to the ground in worship” (Job 1:20 NIV). Job worshipped God. The very essence of worship is about reverence and adoration. Job may have complained about his situation, questioned his situation, reflected on his situation, but even after his wife told him to “curse God and die” (Job 2:9) Job never cursed God. Instead, he retained the utmost respect for God and worshiped Him while complaining and questioning and reflecting. What an example for us! Grieving does not mean that we allow life to swallow us whole and put God to the side. Rather, it invites us to be human while we continue to worship God.
It is also important to see that while Job’s friends came around to “comfort” him, they made the mistake of talking and blaming and questioning his integrity instead of just sitting with him. We need to remember that when we have a loved one who is grieving the best way to come around and comfort them is to just be with them and allow them the time and space to talk or cry or feel while we are present. A simple hug or smile or even crying with them means the world to a grieving person. In those moments, we need to put ourselves aside and be of service to the other.
The end of Job’s story is beautiful! After allowing Job time and space to grieve and be human in his feelings, God speaks to Job for four chapters. God reminds him that He is the Creator of all things, the Owner of all things, and the Omniscient One, having the knowledge of all things. God reminded Job that He has a plan for everything, and we should not “obscure His plans without proper knowledge” (Job 38:1 & Job 42:3). Yes, God even has a plan for our grief: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 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 receive from God” (2 Cor. 1:3, 4). Once Job was reminded and realized who God really is, he repented and God blessed him by restoring all his fortune times two (Job 42:6,10).
Job is a perfect example of what grief looks and feels like, but you know who else grieved? Jesus grieved with tears at the news of Lazarus’ death. He grieved in the Garden of Gethsemane, knowing that he was about to fulfill His purpose on earth. He grieved knowing that His closest friends could not stay awake to pray Him through some of His toughest moments. Jesus also grieved while on the cross when He said, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” Jesus knew grief. God knows grief. By His example, we must allow ourselves time and space to grieve.
Allowing time and space to grieve gives God the opportunity to show off His blessings. It is a conscious choice we need to make each day. I choose to be blessed beyond grief. Blessed beyond grief means that even though I hurt and am in deep sorrow, God still chooses to look on me with favor by gifting me with grace and mercy, with peace that passes all understanding, and with friends to support me.
Grief is a process that comes and goes at different times, at different places, at different moments, and with different memories. Through it all, when you feel like you are drowning in your deep sorrow, be reminded that God is right there with you in that deep sorrow. When your hands are flailing in desperation of your drowning sorrow, feel God’s arms of protection and comfort around you as He rescues you and breathes for you. Allow God to breathe life into you and allow Him to lead you to the next part of healing. Surrender to Him—He won’t let you go.
In that moment when my father’s passing was still very fresh but everyone else’s life continued, a friend of mine sent a work of art with the following reminder:
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).
Allow God to heal your brokenness and care for your wounded soul.
Choose to be blessed beyond grief.