From almost my earliest days in grieving I’ve had a curious relationship with it. I think this is because 1) I have faith in God, which has led me to wonder who God is within the grief process, why I was experiencing it, how I was to resolve it, and 2) I’m amazed at what the Lord shows me that I didn’t already know.
I’m a student of grief because:
1. I find it helps give me agency to endure the season if I’m curious. In a tangible way, curiosity is its own healthy distraction to the polarising negativity of grief.
2. I discover others on similar journeys along the road when I’m out there. There is a community of those who are grieving and those who’ve grieved. There’s incredible connection in such community. God inhabits such community. Some of our deepest and closest relationships are forged through the time of trial.
3. I know God’s agenda is to mature us. Brokenness, as Gene Edwards puts it, is a university few enrol in, let alone graduate from. It is a crucible that burns off the impurities of our faith. It burns off fear, a lack of authenticity, doubting, denial, bargaining, anger, naivety, superficiality, etc. Grief teaches us to feel our emotions in their brutal rawness, which develops in us courage, faith, tenacity, resilience, and even how to ultimately tap into the fruit of the Spirit from there.
4. I feel close to God when I’m pressing into my own grief or that of another’s. In fact, as I counsel people who are grieving, God continues to connect me to old and new lessons in the pain of it all. God never ceases to speak, as if via a megaphone, through that pain.
5. I understand that God intends grief as a learning season. God brings good things of depth and transformation out of trials. Indeed, trials seem to be the Lord’s invitation to depend further on God’s strength to get us through our weakness. And, because we never learn this lesson easily, a long period of grief teaches us, that in pain defeating our hope, not to be flippant about hope in pain. God allows such pain not for our harm but to mature us regarding the role of pain in life.
6. It gives me the capacity to help. Through grief there is a ministry for those who would receive it. There are things about ministry and service that can only be learned through suffering. Compassion is a gift that only those who have suffered can understand and apply. There are few exceptions to this.
7. It tells me that is it meant to floor me. Grief is not meant to be handled well. God can even take us out of commission, which means the Lord can and will show us that we’re not indispensable but, in that, that we’re no less valuable.
8. The rewards of heaven are in acceptance. We truly know God when we marvel at what the Lord can do through pain. There is always the sense in grief that we’re headed toward accepting this thing we cannot change. And when we can, there before us is God’s Kingdom in all its power and glory.
9. I have learned there’s always something beyond the pain of grief. This is something that can only be realised by faith enough to be still in the eye of the storm around us. Indeed, simply believing there is something beyond the pain of grief gives us the capacity to endure it. Quickly we learn to accept this can only be done one day at a time.
10. I have accepted that if grief cannot conquer me, nothing can. This is the overcoming power of God: to know that in the world we’ll have trouble, but we can take heart, even in this and because of it, because Jesus has overcome the world (John 16:33) and all the powers that come against us. The paradox is, I can quickly be overcome by being overwhelmed, but because I don’t stay there I learn that Jesus has overcome for me. Our destiny is to develop through pain to ultimately overcome it, even if that can only be done one day at a time, which is the ultimate in overcoming, that we continue to bear up under our burden.