(Bereavement And Sorrow)
DEFINITIONS: Grief is intense emotional suffering caused by personal loss or tragedies of life. Bereavement is sorrow caused by the loss of a loved one.
FACTS ABOUT GRIEF:
Bereavement is part of life. The Bible says that it is appointed to man to die (Hebrews 9:27). Even the great prophet Elisha–who did many miracles of healing–finally became sick and died (2 Kings 13:14). Bereavement, tragedies, and other losses are part of life. You will experience them if you live very long in this world. You need not fear death, because Jesus conquered it through His own death and resurrection (Hebrews 2:14-15). As a believer, you have eternal life.
God never intended grief, bereavement, and sorrow. These all came into the world because of the original sin of Adam and Eve in the garden (Acts 3). All the losses you experience are due to sin–not necessarily your personal sin–but because of the presence of sin in the world.
Psychologists have identified stages of grief over loss to include the initial shock of a grief-causing event; emotional release through weeping; feelings of regret that one should have done more or done something differently; anger because of the loss; and a period of inertia when one doesn’t care to go on or think they can do so. Psychologists say that the grieving period varies. It is longer for some, shorter for others.
But the Bible says that Jesus bore your grief and sorrow. It may be normal for you to experience the stages of grief, but it is not really necessary. The Bible says Jesus was not only familiar–acquainted with grief–but that He bore your grief and sorrow (Isaiah 53:3-5). Jesus bore your sin so that you no longer have to bear it. If He also bore your grief and sorrow, why are you bearing it? Yes–there is a time to mourn over losses, but extended grief is different than experiencing sorrow from a loss. The Bible says you are blessed if you mourn–not because you remain sad, but because the Holy Spirit comforts you: “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). Jesus carried both your grief and sorrow so that you do not have to do so. He wants to give you the garment of praise for the spirit of mourning (Isaiah 61:3).
Unrequited grief and sorrow manifests in different ways. Unrequited grief can affect you physically, mentally, and spiritually. If you do not cast your grief on Jesus, it may lead to anger, withdrawal, depression, etc.
Grief and sorrow can obscure your recognition of God’s presence. We are sometimes blinded spiritually by our sorrow and preoccupied by grief and despair. Mary did not recognize Jesus at the tomb because of her intense grief. Jacob cried out in grief: “All these things are against me” (Genesis 42:36), not realizing every sorrow he experienced was leading him to a glorious destiny. God still comes to you in the garden of your sorrows. There are angels in the tomb–the graves of your lost dream, your lost loved one, the sorrow your disappointments. Grief and sorrow over failed ambitions, bad health, fleeting youth, negative circumstances–all of these can obscure your recognition of God’s presence.
Errant spiritual decisions cause grief and sorrow. The rich young man who refused to put all he had into the hands of Jesus went away “sorrowing” (Mark 10:22). Sometimes the root of unrequited grief and sorrow is spiritual–a refusal to surrender some aspect of our lives, abilities, possessions, family, friends, or losses into the hands of the Lord.
The loss of a child is particularly devastating. Although we cannot know why a child died, we know that children are precious to God (Matthew 19:14). We also know that they go immediately into the presence of the Lord and that, as believers, we will be reunited with them again someday. When King David’s son died, he declared “…I shall go to him..” (2 Samuel 12:23).
DEALING WITH GRIEF:
Do not try to find reasons for your losses. This was the original sin–wanting to know. Eve wanted to become as God and know all things (Genesis 3). The reasons for some things will be revealed, others will not. You must learn that the secret things belong to the Lord (Deuteronomy 29:29).
Ignore clichés about death, sorrow, and grief. For example: “God needed another angel in Heaven”–which is not only inaccurate, but not at all comforting to the one who lost a loved one. Or “Maybe God took him because he might have not continued to follow the Lord”–again, not comforting and casts aspersions on a loved one’s spiritual experience.
Release your feelings to God. If you feel guilty because you did something wrong or could have done something more for a loved one, confess it to God, ask forgiveness. If feelings of guilt try to manifest again, reject them in the name of the Lord. Believe that you did the best possible given your mental, emotional, and spiritual state during difficult times. If you are angry about a loss, confess it to God. Ask God to heal your emotions. Know that the feelings you are experiencing are common in times of loss, but that it is not necessary for you to continue suffering from these because God is able to heal them.
Call upon the Comforter. One of the purposes of the Holy Spirit is to comfort in times of grief and sorrow. When you are overwhelmed with grief, call upon the Holy Spirit to come and fulfill His purpose of supernatural comfort (John 14:6). As a believer, the Comforter is resident within you. He is always available in your times of need. You are not alone. The Lord is near those whose hearts are broken (Psalm 34:18).
Focus on eternal things. As a believer, you have the hope of the resurrection and of seeing your lost loved ones again (John 11:25-26). The words in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 are supernaturally charged to bring you comfort. For a believer, death is not final. It is a new beginning. Your soul and spirit will go to be with God until Jesus returns. Focus on God, eternity, and the promises in the Word of God. Place your hope in God (Psalm 43:5).
Know that all things are working together for your good. God takes all things–even the bad things, the losses, and sorrows–and weaves them together for good in the fabric of your life (Romans 8:28).
WHAT GOD’S WORD SAYS ABOUT GRIEF:
The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever… (Deuteronomy 29:29)
Nehemiah said, “Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is sacred to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” (Nehemiah 8:10)
You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent. (Psalm 30:11-12)
Be merciful to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and my body with grief. (Psalm 31:9)
The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18)
Why are you downcast, 0 my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God. (Psalm 43:5)
Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints. (Psalm 116:15)
My soul is weary with sorrow; strengthen me according to your word. (Psalm 119:28)
He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. (Psalm 147:3)
A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit. (Proverbs 15:13)
A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones. (Proverbs 17:22)
There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven: a time to be born and a time to die … a time to weep and a time to laugh … a time to mourn and a time to dance… (Ecclesiastes 3:1-4)
Death is the destiny of every man; the living should take this to heart. (Ecclesiastes 7:2)
Sorrow is better than laughter, For by a sad countenance the heart is made better. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, But the heart of fools is in the house of mirth. (Ecclesiastes 7:3-4, NKJV)
The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces. (Isaiah 25:8)
The ransomed of the Lord will return. They will enter Zion with singing; everlasting joy will crown their heads. Gladness and joy will overtake them, and sorrow and sighing will flee away.(Isaiah 51:11)
He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities;The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:3-5)
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion–to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. (Isaiah 61:3)
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. (Matthew 5:4)
Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh. (Luke 6:21)
Jesus said to her, “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.” (John 11:25-26)
Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. (John 14:1-3)
And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever.(John 14:16)
But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. (John 14:26-27)
I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy. (John 16:20)
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. (Romans 14:9)
Then the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.” (1 Corinthians 15:54)
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God. For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows. (2 Corinthians 1:3-5)
Now we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands. Meanwhile we groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, because when we are clothed, we will not be found naked. For while we are in this tent, we groan and are burdened, because we do not wish to be unclothed but to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life. Now it is God who has made us for this very purpose and has given us the Spirit as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. Therefore we are always confident and know that as long as we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord. We live by faith, not by sight. We are confident, I say, and would prefer to be away from the body and at home with the Lord. So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. (2 Corinthians 5:1-9)
For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. (Philippians 1:21-23)
Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage each other with these words. (I Thessalonians 4:13-18)
Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death–that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. (Hebrews 2:14-15)
Just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:27-28)
Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade–kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith–of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire–may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.(1 Peter 1:3-4)
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4)
(See also the topics of “Suffering” and “Death” in this database.)