Joy in the Face of Grief

Our pastor has been preaching about grief for the last few weeks.  I still need to watch the first sermon, “Hope in the Face of Grief,” but after hearing last week (my title – “Joy in the Face of Grief”), I know I need to do that very soon.  If you’re interested in the sermons, you can find them on the Media page at www.gvbc.org.  For a bit of background and a base to jump from, the text for last week’s sermon is John 16:17-24 where Jesus is preparing the disciples for his imminent death, and the definition of grief Bobby uses is “a God-given emotional response to a significant loss in your life”.  You know what my significant loss is, but that loss could be anything: a job, the death of a loved one, a change in health – anything that significantly impacts and changes your life.

I won’t repeat the sermon (go watch it for yourself), but I will share a few things I gleaned from it.  My grief is a gift from God, and my joy is not earthly, fleeting happiness; it is the enduring joy of the presence of Christ in my life.  My grief is not abnormal or sinful; it is the normal and healthy expression of the pain of loss.  My questions and doubt are a natural byproduct of sorrow, and they have strengthened my faith insofar as I have made God the foundation on which I build.  No matter what, God has my best interests at heart, and he has planned good things for me, even when they aren’t the things I would have chosen for myself.

The last three years have been a loooooong journey through grief.  And doubt.  And fear.  And love.  And hope.  But no matter how much I have questioned, the base I jump from is always God.  I could share many Bible verses that have caused me no end of frustration and doubt; I have shared with you much of the experience that has caused great doubt and pain.  I hope I have done a good job of sharing why I haven’t jumped off a cliff yet.  Whenever I feel completely lost and sinking, I go back to basics.  What exactly do I believe and why?

Step one: do I believe there is a god?  I know there are dozens of scientific theories on creation, but I cannot look at the earth – the creek in my back yard, our bodies, the “natural law” we humans spend so much time trying to define with equations and numbers – and think this was a random cosmic hiccup.  I believe that there is a Creator God.  Step two: how do I know that I believe in the right god?  Rationally speaking I don’t.  By faith I believe that God sent his only son, Jesus, to die and live again to allow me and you to have a relationship with him.  I can’t scientifically prove to you that there is a god or that my God is the one true God.  I know in my heart that it’s true, and my life and my words should bear that out.  Step three: how could a god who loves me allow this to happen?  I still can’t really answer that except to say that God is always doing bigger things than we can see.  One example is this blog.  Mabbat wouldn’t exist if I hadn’t felt the need to share my losses and my experiences.  If a single person has been helped or comforted by something I’ve shared, then God has used my grief to do something good.  I can live with that.  It still sucks, but I can live with it.

I don’t know that I learned any new material last Sunday, but God used Bobby’s words to speak to my heart and tell me that I am on solid ground.  I have found joy in the face of my grief.  My sorrow will someday soon be turned into joy.  I am moving in the right direction.  There are times when I have been crippled by grief; there are still days when I have to stop and cry for no apparent reason; but I am able to see the good things in my life.  I have a deeper faith than I ever knew, I have a wonderful husband who has managed to stand by me even when I push him away, I have great and supportive people in my life, and I am learning to see how strong and beautiful I am as a child of God.  That is my joy.

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One thought on “Joy in the Face of Grief

  1. thank you so much for sharing this. It’s touched my heart and I believe God will (probably already has) use it too touch others as well. It’s a blessing to see someone be real and share their transparent and authentic belief in Christ. God bless you and your family.

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