Ever been ambushed by grief? On Monday we began talking about how to grieve through the holidays. If you missed the first five “lessons,” click here to catch up!
God is good. God’s goodness to me is not just a pat on the back. It’s a call to do good things; this gives me hope. It also helps to serve someone else out of our loss. Reach out to someone else who has lost a loved one during the holidays. It won’t take you long to find someone if you pray and ask God to show you who needs your encouragement. “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us,” says Romans 5:8.
Time doesn’t heal all wounds. If you don’t learn this lesson, you will get stuck. Let your grief take you where it will, yet allow God to love you in His goodness. Focus on Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross as an example of God’s goodness. Learning from grief is painful, yet the lessons learned are powerful. “We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body,” says 2 Corinthians 4:8–10.
God uses suffering to help us grow. This does not mean to be happy about what has happened. It means remember—in this fallen world, pain is a part of life. When it comes, we must turn our confidence in God to praise and trust Him to use our suffering for good and be joyful. As in weightlifting, it is the resistance of the weight that develops muscles, and so it is when we develop our faith. “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything,” says James 1:2–4.
Joy and pain can co-exist. Job said, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust Him.” Although there is an element of pain that will never go away, we can fully lean on the Lord and depend on His compassionate care of us. You might think that the absence of pain is a sign of healing. Real healing is evidenced by the presence of both joy and pain. “Praise be to the Lord, for he has heard my cry for mercy. The Lord is my strength and my shield, my heart trusts in him, and I am helped. My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to him in song,” says Psalm 28:6–7.
God is sovereign. Nothing happens to me that is not filtered through His love. Put God in control of your life. Tell Him regularly, “I am yours.” Although God’s sovereignty may be a hard thing to accept, it’s also a soft place to land. Although it may not feel like it right now, God is in control. Turn to Him and ask Him to restore your hope. “The joy of the Lord is your strength,” says Nehemiah 8:10.
It was late, and Jim left to go home before the movie was over; I watched the end alone. God had a special gift to give me; he showed me something new about this place in my grief. Watching a movie I hadn’t seen before made me miss the familiar—my family, “the way we were.” I remembered the happy times of Christmases past, although things will never be the same again. I grieved what we had and the fact that it is gone. With Paul’s death, just four years ago, Paul is alive and well, now more than ever, in his heavenly home. My children, Sarah and Ben, are married adults with lives of their own, living in cities miles away. So yes, I was ambushed and taken down by grief. That night as I went to bed, I chose to love the Lord with all my heart, mind, soul, and strength, and the Lord’s love took me over (Matthew 22:36-40). I thanked God for the wonderful memories of years gone by and grew excited for the new Christmas memories yet to be made.
Let me pray for you right now:
Dear Father, keep us close to you during the holiday season. Help us to keep your perspective. We are busy, tired, and stressed, and then our grief comes on us when we least expect it. We miss our departed loved ones. Refresh our memories of the holidays we shared with them, renew our hope for seeing them once again in heaven, restore our resolve to let you make our “new normal” something that will give you glory. Thank you for hearing our cry and healing our broken hearts. We praise you that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). Help us reach out to someone else who is also grieving. Let us show them your love in their time of need. In Jesus’ Name, Amen
“Once you start recognizing the truth of your story, finish the story. It happened but you’re still here, you’re still capable, powerful, you’re not your circumstance. It happened and you made it through. You’re still fully equipped with every single tool you need to fulfill your purpose.” —Steve Maraboli