Theology Thursday: Grief
We missed the past couple of weeks for Theology Thursday, but we are starting up again today. This is not a complete theology of grief, but just some thoughts that I have had over the past few weeks.
Grief can come from a lot of places. When we lose a job, a marriage, or a prized possession we can be filled with grief. However, for most of us, we tie the most extreme forms of grief with one word: "Death." When we lose someone that we love, we naturally grieve.
In the past few weeks, this idea of grief seems to have hit a lot closer to home to many of us. A few weeks ago, my cousin lost his son to Covid, Samara lost her Grandmother in Haiti, the man who helped me preach my first sermon while I was still in college died of Covid, and a friend who lives close by died unexpectedly at his home. In each instance there was loss. A wife lost their husband, children lost their father, a girl lost her grandmother, and good men lost their lives.
As Christians, how do we handle grief? How do we look into the face of someone who has lost a loved one or how do we look into our own lives when someone we love is taken away?
In a way, grief seems a little selfish. If the person we love was a follower of Christ, they are in the presence of GOD right now enjoying the fulfillment of grace. They have met Jesus and the glory that they are experiencing is indescribable. We do not weep for them, we weep for us.
As much as they are in a better place, we are sad because they brought us happiness. We are hurt because they made us feel better. We are empty because they filled a part of us. We are broken because they helped to make us whole. And that is ok. If you are feeling grief right now, FEEL IT! Be sad and hurt and broken and anything else that you are without guilt. GOD puts people in our lives to make them better and it hurts when we lose them.
If you are comforting someone who is grieving, do not try to explain it to them. You probably don't need to tell them they are in a better place or that they will be ok. Just be there for them. Think for them, do for them, and most importantly be next to them while they grieve.
In John 11, Jesus wept because Mary was weeping. He wept because his friend Lazarus' death had such an affect on him and others that all He could do was weep. One of the funniest things about this passage is vs. 11 when Jesus tells the disciples, before he gets there, that He is going to raise Lazarus from the dead.
Why is this funny? Because Jesus knew the whole time that Lazarus was not going to remain dead and he still wept with those who were weeping. He knew the ending (both spiritually and physically in this case) and He still could not help but weep and grieve with His friends.
There is a lot to talk about when it comes to a theology of grief and even more when it comes to a theology of death, but here is a key:
- Do not be afraid to weep, mourn, and grieve. Weep with those who weep and mourn with those who mourn.
We know the end of the story. We know Jesus wins and God reigns. In that moment of grief, however, when we lose someone that we love, it is good and appropriate to mourn for them. To cry for them. To not know what you could possibly do without them. Even to think about how different things are going to be and to grieve the loss of all of those things.
There are certain people that are going to change us forever, and when GOD takes those people away we grieve at first. We weep and mourn, and then we thank GOD that we had them while we did and continue to live our lives in worship to the One who gives and takes away.