Unmask and come to God as you are
Late Last year 2015, I watched a tv programme – Victorias Lounge which aired on NTV and the first female president in the African continent was being interviewed on her journey of being the first celebrated female president elect in Liberia. I expected her to be on top of the world; praising herself for the great achievements she has had during her rule. But I was amazed on how humble she is and when asked about the challenges she has undergone in her journey she was so sincere and honest. She never put a mask of being the most contented lady in the world. She narrated her loneliness since she was divorced when her family was young. I was full of admiration of her courage and openness. Her story touched my heart since not every other powerful woman could share such a touching story. I thought this must be a woman of God.
God needs such openness from us Christians. This reminded me on how we behave when we are faced with challenging circumstances in our lives as Christians especially when we lose a loved one; I said to myself we all need to unmask and go to God as we are. Don't feel guilty because you are grieving. Many Christians think that glorifying God as they grieve means putting on a happy face when our hearts are bleeding with bitterness and hurt. But this is a misunderstanding of how God wants us to handle the crushing sadness of death.
Paul, in 1 Thessalonians 4:13, captures God's perspective on our grief, "But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope." Christians do grieve—and we should, because death was not part of God's original plan. We know that death exists because sin has entered the world. Death should make us angry. It should make us sad.
But we do not grieve as if we have no hope. We have hope because we trust in the God who made us and the rest of the world. We trust in His love for us, we trust in His goodness, and we trust that He is in control of our lives. We know that Jesus is working to put death to death. And we know that some day we will live in a place where there will never again be any sickness, sorrow, or death. So our sadness is mixed with rest and our sorrow is colored with hope.
When grieving there are a few simple truths from the Bible that I would love to share with you today. God will use them to help you understand what you are experiencing and to give you hooks on which to hang your emotions. This has helped my husband and I to heal after the departure of our son knowing that all was Gods doing and he had better victory ahead.
The story of the death of David's son, Absalom, gives us a picture of a grieving parent. Absalom plotted to take David's place as king of Israel. When his rebellion was crushed, he was killed, even though David had ordered his soldiers to take him alive. David knew that Absalom's actions might lead to his death, but that didn't lessen his grief. 2 Samuel 18:33 tells us, "And the king was deeply moved and went up to the chamber over the gate and wept. And as he went, he said, "O my son Absalom, my son, my son Absalom! Would I had died instead of you, O Absalom, my son, my son!"
David's cry is the cry of every grieving parent. No matter how unexpected or predictable, death shakes us to the core. The pain is inescapable. Don't feel guilty or embarrassed if you feel unprepared to face it. There's no way to be ready for what you are going through.
Here is some biblical direction:
Unmask and go to God as you are. Be honest about your emotions. Being a Christian does not mean being a stoic. God doesn't want you to hide your emotions or wear a happy face mask. He wants you to come to Him with complete honesty. Psalm 34:15 depicts God as a loving father, watching over His children and listening for their cries. Psalms 13, 22, 42, and 73 gives the picture of God's people running to Him in grief and confusion. Don't hide your emotions; when you are struggling, run to the One who knows you completely and loves you faithfully. As Peter says, "Cast all your anxieties on him because he cares for you." 1 Peter 5:7
Don’t paint your pain over -run to where comfort can be found. When he was suffering, the apostle Paul said an amazing thing about the Lord. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort…" 2 Corinthians 1:3. All real, lasting comfort has its source from the Lord, because He is the Father of compassion and comfort. Think about this. Your heavenly Father is in charge of comfort and compassion. He exercises His loving power on earth so that comfort will be available. Whenever anyone, anytime, anywhere experiences real comfort, it is because God, the source of all true comfort, has made it happen. It is never useless to cry out to Him. He has the power to bring hope and rest to your soul in ways you could never conceive. God, in His grace, has assigned this job to Himself.
Listen to the Holy Spirit of God to avoid falling into grief's traps. Moments of sorrow are also moments of temptation. You have an enemy who wants to use this moment to tempt you to question God's goodness and love. He will tempt you to be envious of others and to become angry and bitter. The struggle of grief is not just a struggle of sorrow, but of temptation as well. Look out for grief's traps. Watch yourself for signs of doubt, anger, envy, self-pity, bitterness. When you see these things in yourself, run to Jesus for His forgiveness, strength, and protection.
Be thankful for small good things that are happening to you. Even in the darkest of moments, you can find clear signs of God's presence and love. The apostle Paul says it this way. "Give thanks in all circumstances, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" 1 Thessalonians 5:18. Notice the little preposition "in" in the middle of the verse. We are called to be thankful in every situation. This doesn't mean that you will always be thankful for what you are going through, but it does mean that you can be thankful for what God is giving you to sustain you in your grief. In your darkness, there are always little lights of God's grace and love to be found. Search for those lights. Pay attention to the good things God is doing, even in this dark moment, so your grief can be mixed with heartfelt gratitude.
Don't neglect your spiritual habits. When you are overwhelmed with sadness, it can seem pointless to pray. You may feel too weak and emotionally distracted to read the Bible. But you need these spiritually productive habits in your life now more than ever. God has called you to do these things because they mature your heart and strengthen your soul. They remind you of who you are and who the Lord is. They reconnect you to your identity as His child and help you to remember that a time is coming when you will not face death ever again.
Nobody feels your hurt so don’t wait to be celebrated instead Celebrate eternity. Look beyond this moment of grief to an eternity with God. When you entered into God's family, you started a journey that will not end until you are with your Lord in eternity. The heart-breaking pains of life in a fallen world will someday end. The crushing sadness of death will end. Some day your grief will be gone and it will not return. So, as you grieve, remember what is to come and be thankful. You have a bright future that does not include sadness and death.
Give away the comfort you have received. When most people read our website they pity us and most have said “it’s good because it will help you to heal.” we are only able to let others touch our wound because God has comforted us and the Scripture says that God comforts us, not only to bring rest to our hearts, but also so we can comfort others, (2 Corinthians 1:3, 4). If you have experienced God's comfort in your time of grief, you are uniquely able to understand what a fellow griever is going through. So what you do or say will give other mourners hope and rest. This is the most important reason that my husband and I share our testimony of Gods healing to you today.
Don't hoard your comfort. Your experience has qualified you to be an active part of the army of helpers that the God of compassion sends into our broken, hurting world.
Let us remember that death of a loved one is a universal experience, and a company of mourners surrounds us. Yet there is an even more powerful way in which we are not alone. Our Savior, Jesus, has taken another name, Emmanuel, which means "God with us." You have a powerful Brother, Savior, Counselor, and Friend who not only stand beside you, but lives within you! His presence makes it impossible for you to be alone in this moment of pain; (John 14:15-20).
As you weep, remember that the One who weeps with you understands your heartache. He is "a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief" (Isaiah 53:3). But He does more than understand; He also acts. Jesus will not let death reign forever. On the cross He defeated death, and His resurrection is your guarantee that one day, all who believe in Him, will be resurrected to a life of glory and peace. One day He is coming again to end physical death and to usher in a new heaven and earth where there will be no dying, no tears, and no sorrow (Revelation 21:1-4).
Comforting thought for the week
Good can come out of the very worst of things. The Bible tells us that the brightest of good things can be found in the midst of evil's darkness. Lasting comfort is not found in what you know, but Who you know. Real comfort comes when you rest in your relationship as the child of the wisest, most powerful, most loving, most gracious, most forgiving, and most faithful Person in the universe. He has promised to never leave you (Joshua 1:5, Heb.13:5). He is committed to making even the worst moments in your life result in good (Romans 8:28-38). And He will give you everything you need to face whatever you encounter in this fallen world, even death (2 Peter 1:3).