No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear. - C.S. Lewis
How do you feel about grief?
Grief is real, it happens to all of us, and that's ok. To say that someone shouldn't grieve is preposterous.
Jesus himself grieved on many occasions, the most telling (I believe) was at the death of his good friend Lazarus, whom He knew He was about to raise from the dead in just moments anyway.
However, it's not the existence of grief that I worry about (I have experienced much grief in my own life - grief that haunted me, even consumed me, for years), it's the nature of that grief... the response to it, if you will.
Grief, fear, pain, heartbreak, loss - all of these things hurt in their own way (with much overlap if we're honest). But the difference between a believer and a non-believer isn't the absence of grief, fear, pain, heartbreak, and loss; it's the presence of hope.
Where as a non-believer could in fact have their entire life ruined by the loss of a person, a plan, or an ideal, a believer has an unshakable identity that cannot be squashed by anything (be it the presence or the absence) in this world that we temporarily call home. See, a Christian's identity is found in Christ, not ourselves, not in those around us. As such, since Christ is eternal, our identity is eternal, therefore our hope is not propped up on the fragility that is this life but in He who was, is, and is yet to come.
We can have hope because we know how the story ends. Despite what happens now, however awful it may be, we know the final outcome. What kind of peace could you have if while playing in a soccer game you were down 1-0, then 5-0, then 10-0, then 20-0, but you KNEW the final score had you winning? Simple and inadequate as an example as that is, you can see the point (hopefully).
There are lots of wonderful verses in the Bible that deal with grief (and comfort), and I'll share several of my favorites in the next paragraph, but the defining verse for me is this:
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (particularly 4:13b)
Do not feel guilt over grief, we are a loving and caring people and grief is natural, it is Biblical. Jesus wept, Jesus grieved. But do not mourn like those who have no hope - for our hope is secured and we Know how the story ends.
Additional verses for those grieving:
- Psalm 46:10
- John 14:27
- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
- Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
- 1 Corinthians 15:42-57
- Isaiah 41:10
- Psalm 34:18
- Isaiah 51:11
- 1 Thessalonians 4:13b