Biblical Grief

It might be helpful to view the current geopolitical situation through a perspective of grief. We grieve when we lose something that is important to us.
 
Normally this is first recognized in the death of a loved one. There is
considerable literature and discussions surrounding how to understand and how to process grief.
Loss of any kind is at its core a recognition that we have little or no control over what happened. For our purposes at this time, we could consider stages of grief. When we are confronted with a loss, it is very normal to experience denial and bargaining. Consider the news of a cancer diagnosis.
 
The first thought is often “this can’t be” (denial).
 
Then comes “maybe I’ll see a different doctor” (bargaining). These aren’t wrong responses. Seeing another doctor is a good idea.
 
Some might view prayer as denial and bargaining with God. Prayer is bringing our needs to a loving God and asking for His help. Bargaining? Maybe.
 
As we work through coming to grips with these types of realities many people feel angry. Common responses are anger at God, doctors, hospitals, government etc. Part of what these all have in common is our perception that they have the power when we feel powerless.
 
These “stages” are not clean and linear like stops on a bus route. We move in and out – back and forth and experience several at the same time. Also some of us spend more time in denial while others may get stuck in anger. Others don’t spend much time in these first stages but can get stuck in the next stage – sorrow.
 
Eventually sadness, sorrow, even depression envelope us. This too is a healthy part of grieving that which is truly lost – never to return. We do well to remember that Jesus wept.
 
Everything we have discussed so far is primarily a crescendo of emotions. That spending of emotional energy helps us as we move to the next necessary stage which is acceptance. A wife wakes up every day and asks herself  “is he really gone” and cries. A mother walks into a nursery 4 times a day checking on a baby that she knows isn’t there, and weeps. Life-threatening sickness threatens each one of us on a scale none of us have ever seen. A retired person checks their investment account every morning. It still is not what it was. Yes – it is a fact. The market crashed. The schools are closed. Good, hard-working people are being laid off. Healthy grief demands acceptance. A gradual diminishing of denial, bargaining, anger and sadness.
 
Acceptance is a rational, not emotional, response to real loss that leads to the final stage, which is a new reality. All that we experience as we journey through our losses becomes an integral part of who we are. There is often an individual as well as a collective reordering of priorities and values. Those who lived through the horrors of a world war and the deprivations of the Great Depression were forever defined by those experiences.
 
The unfolding world situation may be such a defining historical event. If we think it isn’t, are we in denial? If we are convinced that it is, will we become trapped in anger and sadness? We may find that in the best case scenario, the best response is to not listen to the doomsayers, and denial and bargaining will get us through. If this however develops as a worse case scenario and we are in the midst of a truly historical defining period in history, do we despair?
 
As Christians, neither the worst case nor the best case is what defines us. This is a time for faith.
 
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
 

Faith looks to the substantive reality of who we are and what we look forward to as God’s children.

 

Faith is the truth of what God has done and continues to do in our hearts. The church of Jesus Christ is the incubator for the growth we will experience during this time. The church is not a location or a building and we are blessed to live in a time in which we are connecting over the internet.

 

We are here for each other. We are here for you. Your pastors are available to you; call us if we can help.
 

-Pastor Charlie

 
For additional reading – see Ecclesiastes 3:1-8