Thursday, October 15, 2015

What To Do With The Pain?

John 11:35 - "Jesus wept." (ESV)

I find it interesting that the verse most famous for being the shortest reveals such depth of the emotions of Christ. This Scripture provides an insight into how to handle the pain and emotions surrounding grief. Grief tends to isolate, to pull us away, to build walls and to convince us that we are truly alone and nobody cares.

Christ brings the complete opposite idea into grief - it is a community activity. Jesus weeps openly at the tomb of his friend Lazarus. He did not hide his sorrow, He did not "toughen up" and put on a game face. He did not look for excuses, justifications or reasons. Jesus simply cried. He embraced the grief, embraced the loss, embraced the sorrow and began to experience the healing power of God in His life as a result.

Wow, doesn't that sound easy?!? If only we could just cry and that would make everything better, right? As nice as that sentiment might be, it just doesn't seem very real. Even though Jesus raised Lazarus that day, he still eventually passed away. Jesus was so overcome by grief as He approached the cross that blood came out...yet He still went to the cross. Embracing grief does not mean that circumstances change and storms turn to rainbows.

It is very possible that the storm will endure far beyond when our tears run out. We might be physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually exhausted from grief and yet the storm keeps raging. Jesus promises us in John 16:16 that our "sorrow will turn to joy." (ESV)

I don't know about you, but there have been many times in my life that I was convinced that not only would the sorrow never change, but that it would simply grow and expand until I was consumed. Yet, just as He was with the three Hebrew children, God is faithful and has always been right in the midst of the fire with me.

So, just what do we do with the pain?

We embrace it - weep as Jesus wept. While there is a time for information, answers and rationale...there must also be time for tears. Sorrow that is hidden becomes bitterness and anger...sorrow that is embraced becomes the very channel for the Holy Spirit to heal!

Run to Jesus. "Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28 ESV. This is both a command and promise from Christ. Remember, He has experienced the pain of grief...He can provide comfort in the midst of the storm.

Lean on your community. Family, friends, church members, etc. Who has God surrounded you with? It might be time to make a call, ask for help and bear your soul. If you don't feel that you have community, then ask God to show you who you can count on. We are not meant to live life alone...even Jesus had His disciples throughout.

Grief is not an emotion to run from. It is part of the human experience and is natural. It allows us to experience life, run to Christ, cry as we process loss and brokenness. It opens the doors up to eventual healing and wholeness as God moves both in and through us. We are not called to perfection or even strength. We are asked by God to depend upon Him, to lean on Jesus and to surrender to the power of the Holy Spirit. Grief, when handled well, can become the very conduit to the blessings of God that each of us is seeking.

Dear Lord, grief is such a challenge to walk through. I need Your strength and grace to keep moving forward. The pain of loss, of broken dreams, of unfulfilled expectations can easily consume my thoughts. May the things of life that cause sorrow become the very pathway to Your blessing and healing in my life. I trust You, I run to You and I surrender to you. Help me to embrace grief and to seek You for peace. Amen.

~ Mike

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