How Do We Handle Grief?

How Do We Handle Grief?

It’s been a tough 2-3 months. From April 19 to present, Karen and I have lost three of the finest Christian women that we have ever known. Last weekend, we traveled to St. Paul, MN, to celebrate the life of Pat White, one of the special ‘local grandmothers’ to Adam and Becca about 30 years ago when we lived very far from home.

On June 21, Northside will share joy and grief with the family of Donna Pearson. And two days later, family and friends will gather to share good memories and be reminded of the valuable life lessons we learned from Karen’s mom, Jo Hodge.

Paul addressed the question of grief when a believer dies before the Second Coming of Christ. “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.” (1 Thess. 4.13). There should be a clear difference between Christians and non-Christians at a funeral.

Is there a ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ way for a Christians to grieve? Many of the psalms describe the depth of David’s sense of loss and despair in his life, and we can take comfort from those verses. There is no specific Bible direction on the right or wrong way to handle our grief, but we know that God created us with the capacity to feel the joy of accomplishment and the pain of loss. Our feelings of sadness and loss will vary greatly from person to person. As long as we don’t allow our emotions to cause sinful behavior, I believe that God offers a lot of grace for us when we have suffered significant loss in our lives.

When you grieve, my encouragement is to remain close to ‘the Father of all compassion and the God of all comfort’ (2 Cor 1.3) and to maintain loving relationships with God’s people. When we struggle, someone who loves us will find a way to serve us in that very hard time.

What do I do, now that they’re gone? Many good sermons have started with Hebrews 12.1-3, but these words come to me as I think about Pat and Donna and Jo, because they have joined “… a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus … so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” In our grief, we remember the lives of good Christians, the examples that they offered to us, and we commit to making better choices in our life from day to day.