DISCLAIMER #1: I hold to an evangelical Christian worldview. As such, my posts will reflect that worldview intentionally and unapologetically. My words are more likely to appeal to readers with a similar worldview, though I would hope the message will resonate with folks from a variety of perspectives.
DISCLAIMER #2: The purpose of this blog isn’t to advise anyone how they should grieve; I’m not that smart. If I can help someone to grieve well, to make sense of their confusion, to overcome some emotional struggles, to see the daffodils on a cold & gray day . . . then I’ve succeeded.
Today’s post is the first in a short series that I’m informally calling “A Theology of Grief.” My hope is that this series will help folks to have a strong, true foundation on which to build their grief.
Some years ago I was watching a stand-up comic on television (I wish I could remember his name in order to give him full credit). Part of his material was on childbirth, but he wasn’t speaking in a vulgar or graphic way. Instead, his delivery had the vibe that “labor and delivery are always great comic material for a man, especially when half of the audience is male!” He was musing about women who eschew epidural medication in favor of “natural” childbirth when he offered the funniest line of his entire show. To paraphrase he said, “Ladies, you’re squeezing a watermelon out of a tomato. There’s NOTHING ‘natural’ about that, TAKE THE DRUGS!”
I’ve shared that perspective a number of times with my friends who are expectant parents, not to advocate a medical opinion but just because it’s funny. Recently, that line from a stand-up comedy routine has become to me a symbol of a theological truth: grief isn’t natural.
Before you stop reading and your blood pressure escalates, allow me to clarify. Grief is “normal” in the sense that everyone deals with a wide-range of emotions in the wake of losing someone near to them. However, grief isn’t “natural” because death wasn’t part of God’s created order. In His original plan, life was meant to be forever and fellowship with God was meant to be unbroken.
For those of us who have spent a fair amount of time in church, the first two chapters of Genesis are more than familiar. Then the third chapter of Genesis happens. When Adam and Eve disobeyed God, the consequences were many and significant. Humanity was messed up. The relationship between people and God was messed up. Creation itself was messed up. The greatest consequence of all was death, spiritually and physically.
There aren’t any loopholes or exceptions to the consequences of sin, none of us are immune to the pain caused by death. The sooner we can accept this “no exceptions” reality, the sooner we will find peace in our grief (and in many other areas of our lives). It’s the truth that takes what isn’t natural and makes it normal. If we’re building a foundation on which to grieve, then this truth is the hard level ground underneath.
In your lowest moments of mourning, has it ever occurred to you that all of your negative emotions are magnified simply because death is contrary to God’s created order? When you allow yourself to separate from those emotions, there’s an arrangement of daffodils waiting to be seen there. God never wanted us to die. More than that, God knows our pain. We lose people, He lost everybody all at once! When you look at it from an eternal and heavenly perspective, our grief pales in comparison to His.
A postscript that may not apply to everyone but will to many: If the crux of your grief is simply that you loved someone so deeply and you miss them so terribly, then the yard of your life is already blooming with beds of daffodils. Sometimes we’re just leaning against the massive oak tree of sadness and it obstructs us from seeing the blessings that are there. It’s liberating when we get to a place where we can be more joyful over the time we had than sad or angry over the time that’s no more. If you’re striving to make it to that place, I’m praying God will provide the strength and perspective you need to step back from the tree. I’m praying for YOU to thrive in the midst of the daffodils that are already thriving around you.
If God allows even a sentence out of anything I write to minister to you, I LOVE to hear about it. Leave a comment or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.]