The Burden of Grief
One has heard countless sermons and studies on the topic of death and grief, but seldom on how to cope with what will happen to us all at some point in life. We all have different ways of dealing with grief. One thing is very important, a good support network of friends, family and fellow believers. I cannot stress how important this is. If it was not for the kindness and support of my church family I don’t know how I would have coped for the past few months.
It is a great comfort and joy to know that my mother is in God’s heavenly kingdom and in His loving care. However, that does not make her passing any easier to cope with. Yes, the knowledge that she is with the Lord is a massive blessing and comfort, but the loss of her is great and has left a hole in my heart. The blessing here is that when the Lord takes someone from us he leaves what is best about that person with us. I have many precious memories of my mother and this is one of many things I hold dear in dealing with grief.
We learn from Scripture that our Lord wept when his friend Lazarus died. Jesus knew what it was like to lose a loved friend and what it meant to feel the pain and suffering of grief. He had memories of his friend and felt the anguish we all experience when we learn of the death of a loved one. Even though Jesus felt the loss he knew that one day he would see his friend again. We can also hold on to this as believers. If we are in Christ we will see those again, who have died in Christ.
Grief is a very real thing and Scripture regards grief as real suffering. Those who grieve are called, “bereaved”. The word means to be forcibly deprived. This is the state of being emotionally broken. In Psalm 23 David describes grief as “the valley of the shadow of death.” For many who suffer from grief, it can feel like a pit of sorrow. However, God has promised to walk alongside us. David testified to this, “for thou art with me: thy rod and staff comfort me.” The Lord is our shepherd he will guide us through the mist, darkness and cloud of sorrow. God’s presence is the only sure support in death. There is life in death and light in the darkness.
There are three passages I would like to draw your attention to. The first is found in Ephesians 2: 12-13, “that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus, you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”
We were once cut off from the blessings and privileges of God by our sin and lack of faith. We were strangers without hope in life and death. However, now in Christ, we have been brought into his love and care by Christ’s shed blood. His hope is more than a wish or desire; it is a sure, steadfast and secure hope because our Lord and Saviour has overcome death and will give us the victory over the grave if we trust in him alone. Nothing else can give us this hope and joy. Jesus Christ is the only real hope in this world.
The second passage is Isaiah 53: 3, “He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.”
Our Lord and Saviour was a man acquainted with grief, sorrow and rejection. Never make the mistake of thinking that our Lord cannot identify with our pain and suffering. The Lord knows all about grief and sorrow. During grief, it is important to talk and keep in touch with friends and family. However, there will be times when only God can comfort and understand. It is good to cast all our care and burdens on the Lord. Christian people are not made to carry their burdens alone. We have a great God and Father who teaches us to cast all our cares on him. It is good to remember the words of the hymn writer, Joseph Scriven, “What a friend we have in Jesus
All our sins and griefs to bear, What a privilege to carry, Everything to God in prayer.”
The last passage I would like to draw your attention to is John 11: 25-26, “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
Jesus Christ has the power over death. He is the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in him will never die. Yes, we die a natural death, meaning our bodies will die, but our soul will live on either in Heaven or Hell. Christ rose from the dead and will give us the victory over death also. One day our sinful body will die and our soul will stand before God. On that day will you enter the eternal joy and rest that Christ speaks of in this passage or will you be lost forever and locked out of the Kingdom of life everlasting. Jesus asked a very important question in the passage to Martha the sister of his beloved friend Lazarus. This question is one that we all must answer before our physical death. Do you believe that Jesus Christ has power over sin, death and hell?
To the believer, this is a great comfort. I know that it is true in my case. To know that my mother’s soul is in the presence of Almighty God and in his enteral kingdom has helped me greatly. This can only be said of those who believe in Christ and his gospel of grace. He who believes in the Son of God has life. “He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1 John 5:12).