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Grief is an emotion common to the human experience, and we witness the process of grief throughout the biblical narrative. Multiple Bible characters experienced deep loss and sadness, including Job...
Grieving is normal. Grieving with right Spirit brings healing. Jesus grieved and wept too. I recall a story of an elephant, my mother had told me as a child. An elephant calf was run over by a train and was killed. By dusk, the entire herd was found crying, literally shedding tears over the dead. Animals grieve too. Grief is a normal psychological reaction to loss of a loved one, a possession or a desire. It’s an experience of deprivation and anxiety and shows in our behavior, emotions, thoughts, physiology, Inter personal relationships and in our spiritual lives. All of us are prone to experience grief at some point in our lives. Grief is universal and can be a result of divorce, amputation, death of a pet, a failure in contest or a forced shift to an unfavoured place. Grieving is never easy though we employ avoidance with jargons like ‘passing away’ or ‘left’ instead of ‘died’. Though we take comfort in the certainty of resurrection, the emptiness and the pain of ‘letting go’ remains. A feeling of helplessness sets in as we face an irreversible and unalterable situation. ► However the following "extreme emotions" are forbidden in the Bible 1. Many peoples were very violent both in the mourning, tearing the hair, scratching and cutting the flesh (Dt. 14:1; Jer. 48:37). 2. Connected with mourning of loved ones, tattooing was first practised in various pagan nations from the earliest times, as well as markings with paint and cutting the flesh. Any dis-figuration of the body was an outrage to God and an insult to Him who designed the body. (Lev 19:28) 3. Oriental Muslims in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, mourn the death anniversary of grandson of Prophet Muhammad in a very tragic way of causing hurt while mourning. This event by flogging their naked bodies with a bunch of chains that contain razor blades or knives. 4. Lev 21:5 says, "They shall not make baldness upon their head, neither shall they shave off the corner of their beard, nor make any cuttings in their flesh". Here the same commands given to laymen were also given to priests so that none could think he was exempted from them and therefore free to follow other nations in such practices. Lev. 19:27-28. 5. It is a common practise to cut the flesh while mourning emotionally. It was the custom among Canaanite nations to cut the flesh to express sincerity to the dead while practising idolatrous worship prayer (1Ki. 18:28). More often this was done for the dead to help wash away sins (Lev. 19:28; 21:5). 6. Don't shave between your eyes for the dead. It was a custom in some nations to cut the hair and consecrate it to the gods; others cut the hair a certain way in mourning for the dead. 7. Pipes were used in mourning at funerals (Mt. 9:23). Flute players, pipers and paid mourners who attend the houses of the dead(Jer 9:18-21; 48:36; Amos 5;16). The poorest were required to have two pipers and one mourning woman. The housetops were used many times for idolatrous worship and prayer to other gods. Instead there will be lamentation because of the powerlessness of their god who had allowed this ruin (Jer. 48:38-39).
I would like to add two additional suggestions for biblical ways to help overcome grief. 1. Enable the grieving to become our ministry In 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 Paul says "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 receive from God." As we work through the grieving process in community with others (a Christian support group), we lean on them in the early stages when the pain and sorrow is raw and intense. Over time others enter our support group in the early stages of grief and we find ourselves reaching out to help them along the way. As we focus on the needs of others, God meets our needs. Then the pain and sorrow finds its rightful place in our life experience. This is the process of healing and wholeness that God wants to use to overcome grief so the debilitation of pain and sorrow doesn’t keep us from fulfilling God’s plan for our life. To some extent the grief will always be with us because the memories will remain. 2. Change the sadness and sorrow of grief into the inexpressible joy of hope In 1 Peter 1:6 Peter said “In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. In 1 Peter 1:8 he continues “Though you have not seen him you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy.” Grief of all kinds represents a trial that we suffer through. As Peter is reminding these grieving Christians, take the focus of our minds off the circumstances or event that is causing the grief. Instead of focusing on the loss that is causing all the pain and sorrow, focus our minds on what we have gained through our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. As we focus on these eternal truths, the pain and sorrow is replaced by the inexpressible joy of hope. As recorded in 1 Peter chapter 1, following is a list of what we have gained from our relationship with Jesus Christ: 1) We have been chosen according to the foreknowledge of God 2) We have been sanctified by the Spirit 3) We have been able to obey Jesus Christ 4) We have been sprinkled by his blood 5) We have been given grace and peace in fullest measure 6) We have been given God’s mercy 7) We have been born again 8) We have been given a living hope 9) We have been given an inheritance in heaven, imperishable and undefiled 10) We have been protected by the power of God through faith 11) We have been given a salvation that will be revealed when Jesus Christ returns May the inexpressible and glorious joy of knowing Jesus Christ fill your heart and mind with the comfort of God the Father - today and always.
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