There is no one that lives very long that is not touched by, if not immersed in grief. Grief is a visitor to our lives that wants to pull up a seat and stay for an extended period of time and if we are not careful, it will move in to stay permanently. I cannot think of very many things that are worse than being overcome in grief.
I have been there, but by God’s grace He has allowed me to overcome.
My first encounter with grief came in in 1993 when my father committed suicide. Anyone who knew my father knew he was a Christian but he suffered from a chemical imbalance in his brain that caused him to suffer from manic depression. He was fine as long as he took his medicine but someone told him a Christian should not have to take medicine. Wanting to be a strong Christian, he stopped. Tragically, I had to help the police officer take my father off the rope where he hung himself. A little over 12 years ago my wife was told she had cancer and she only had 12-18 months to live, oh what grief. I watched her dwindle away eventually losing her in 2004. Grief was not done with me yet. I lost my mother 2 years later suddenly, then in 2013 my brother lost his battle with cancer. The worst was when I lost my son to leukemia in just 4 weeks’ time. I share this personal information to let you know that God is still good and you can overcome.
While suffering through my grief someone recommended I read a self-help book on grief but I found that there is no magic wand to relieve your grief except your faith in God and using His word to move in your life. He has all the answers in His book so let me share the 9 point plan that has helped me.
1. Acknowledge your sorrow and shed your tears. Eccl 3:4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; Everyone’s timeline and how they handle grief is different so whatever it is take time to mourn but realize there is a time to regain your joy. You need to treat your grief like a boil. A boil never gets better until it is lanced and you get the corruption out so it is with grief, you have to get the tears and emotions out before you can heal.
2. Share your grief. Romans 12:15 and 1 Corinthians 12:26 say we are to mourn with those that mourn but this also means we have to let others mourn with us. Nothing helped me more than sharing my grief with my church family and letting them mourn with me.
3. Ask God to handle it. Ps 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. David knew about grief and knew that whatever came his way that God would help him through it. He will help you too if you ask.
4. Don’t let it settle in. Focus on the positives not the negatives as Paul tells us in Philippians 4:8. Hold onto and repeat the promises God has spoken to us like Rom 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. Or Rev 21:4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
5. Don’t let it creep back in. There will be times when tears and emotions come flooding back in for no apparent reason or maybe a song or saying will remind you of the grief you have suffered. This is the time to focus on the blessing you have and had not what you lost. Col 3:15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.
Be thankful, not sorrowful. I choose to remember how blessed I was to have the people I lost in my life and the fond memories I have instead of the loss.
6. Realize that you are not the only one that has suffered or lost. 1 Cor 12:26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honored, all the members rejoice with it.
7. Understand that the situation or loss is only temporary. 1 Thess 4:13-14 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. If your loved ones are in a saved condition we WILL see them again.
8. Consider there is a reason for your grief and ask what you need to learn from the situation. James 1:2-4 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
9. Use the lesson you have learned to help others. There is no better therapy than being able to help others manage their grief by sharing your experiences. 2 Cor 1:3-4 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
We have been given a precious gift, that even when grief is overwhelming and tears fill our eyes we have a savior that cares for us and feels our pain. The good news is that he endured grief and hardships to give you a home in heaven where there will be no grief or sorrow if you want it. The greatest grief you will ever endure is denying the truth until it is too late.