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Dealing With Grief – By Dr. Glenn Cummings

I want to share something that I pray will help those who are dealing with the loss of a loved one.
 
If you’ve ever lost a loved one, you know the aching emptiness of grief. Often the pain is beyond measure – an overwhelming and profound sadness that words can barely begin to describe.  If you’ve walked this dark valley, then I’m sure you can relate to these words from someone who found herself sinking under the pain of bereavement.  “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:21) I’m sure those words are familiar to many of you. They were spoken to Jesus by His close friend Martha following the death of her dear brother, Lazarus. And they reveal to us the painful questions of a grieving heart…. “I thought you loved me, Jesus.”   “Why didn’t you do something, Lord?”   “Were you not able to answer my cry for help?”
 
Perhaps you recognize the cry of your own heart in Martha’s heartfelt plea. If so, then you need to cling to the promises of God that will pour healing balm on your wounds of grief.
 
Here are two truths to help heal your hurting heart:
 
First, God understands your pain even when you feel like no one could ever know what you’re going through. As Isaiah 53:3 says, “He was…a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.”
 
Second, God will hold you firm even when you feel like you’re sinking in the storms of grief. Psalm 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”
 
Friend, remember that God longs to lift you up – no matter how deep the abyss of pain seems to be. So, cling to His Word. In your lowest moments and your darkest places, look to Him, the only One who has the power to help you get through and break free from grief!
 
In Genesis 50, we see the difference God’s presence made in Joseph’s life as he was walking through the grief of losing his father.  We have in the previous chapter the event recorded of his father’s death.  Jacob “breathed his last.” It also says in that verse that Jacob was “gathered to his people.” Jacob, the father of Joseph, died.  After 147 years of life, the patriarch passed from this world. With his 12 sons around his bed, he lay down and breathed his last breath.
 
How did Jacob’s death impact his son Joseph? Joseph felt the pain of grief. His dad was gone. There would be no more father and son chats. He would never see his beloved father again in this life.  How did Joseph deal with the pain of release, the pain of parting, of death?
 
I’d like to make a pastoral observation. As I’ve helped grieving families work through the loss of loved ones, I’ve noticed something that’s not surprising. There’s a world of difference between people who know Christ and people who don’t know Him, when it comes to the way they handle death.  Knowing God makes a significant difference in the way we handle the pain of grief. Watch the steps Joseph took.  Verse 1 says that Joseph “threw himself upon his father. He wept. He kissed him.”  He unleashed his emotions in an unrestrained expression of love.  So please understand – even Christians grieve.  
 
Jesus Himself wept when Lazarus died. It’s OK to grieve. It’s even healthy physically to express grief, to show emotion, when confronted with the pain of release. Paul put it this way in 1 Thessalonians 4:13, saying that we “do not sorrow as those who have no hope.” We have hope in Christ, hope that is victorious over death. 
 
How should we respond when we lose a loved one?  When I look at Joseph’s example, I believe we see a helpful model for dealing with the pain of release. I observe two principles regarding bereavement.
 
First, be careful not to bury the pain too soon. It is okay to mourn. Death is painful. Why do we have death in the world? Never forget that death is the result of sin’s curse. Death is the consequence of mankind’s rebellion against the Creator. Death entered the world because of Adam’s sin. Joseph wept and did so unashamedly. His weeping was not a sign of weakness.  By the way, when someone you care about loses a loved one, allow them to grieve. Don’t be the stoic who says, “Be strong! You shouldn’t cry.”  We have a tendency in our society to try to “get on with life” too quickly. We don’t deal with the pain of death. We try to hide it, bury it and isolate ourselves from it.
 
Second, after sufficient time for grieving, don’t live in the past. Joseph mourned, no doubt, for many weeks, if not months. That was OK, even appropriate.  But then he got on with life.  I realize this is a delicate subject. I’ve already said that grieving is normal, even essential. For a time.  But there are people who simply stop living. They shut down. They begin to live in the past.  What do they need to do? They need to remember that the God who numbers our days still has more He desires to accomplish in and through them.
 
A great step to break the paralyzing nature of grief is to ask the Lord to bring someone into your life to whom you can minister.  We must not live in the past. We have a purpose for living in the present and our purpose is linked to the future.
 
Look at Jesus’ promises:  John 10:10 “I am come that you might have life, and have it to the full.”  John 11:25-26 “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.”
 
So, when it comes to grief, we mustn’t bury the pain of release too soon. But after sufficient time has passed, neither should we live in the past. We can—and must—move ahead.  God’s presence made the difference in one very painful experience in Joseph’s life – would you allow God to do that for you? Life is never the same when we lose a loved one, but live each day knowing you will be reunited after death if you both have placed your faith and trust in God.  

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