Good Friday morning! Today I come to you with mixed emotions. It’s going to be my last post about grief, but I don’t want you ladies to stop emailing me and letting me know how your doing. I’m humbled that you would confide in me as you have. I’m honored to continue to pray for you as you walk through these difficult days.
Today, we’re going to cover a lot of territory, so I’m going to try to be concise. (You girls know how hard that is going to be for me!) So, for the sake of making it easier to read, I’m going to segment this post using three specific subtitles.
I want to recommend that you read it through the weekend in segments.
Our journey will cover…
1. Good Grief – the benefit of grieving
2. Practical Healing – practical ways to find healing
3. Grieving the Lost – when you’re not sure if your loved one knew Christ
I’m not sure if you’ve ever been told this, but grieving is good for you. It’s part of what you need to go through to bring healing to your hurting heart. It’s not a sign of weakness; it doesn’t mean you’ve gone over the deep end; and it certainly doesn’t mean you’re wallowing in self-pity. It’s a natural and normal part of the healing process.
So, let’s look at the benefits of grieving and find out why grieving is good –
1. It helps you work through all the emotions specific to your relationship with your loved one and deal with unresolved issues and threading unseen connections with them on your way to closure.
2. It makes you cry – you know – cry like you can’t breathe or swallow and like you’re gonna throw up kind of cry. Believe it or not, crying like that can bring a cleansing release that is necessary if you’re going to move on successfully. It’s as if crying from the deep place in your heart is intrinsic to letting go.
3. It gives you hope, confidence and perspective. When you know your loved one was a Christian, you know you will see them again. It helps you see with new eyes what cannot be seen at all. It changes your perspective about life, death and everything in between. It gives you the confidence to face a new day knowing you’ve cried and grieved and you’re still alive to talk about it. There’s something very sobering about knowing you’re without your loved one on this planet – but that God still has a purpose for you.
4. It helps you see your current relationships with new eyes and new appreciation. You are reminded to cherish each moment with the ones you love. To savor each circumstance. To treasure each tic of the clock with family and friends with a better understanding of how priceless each second is.
I realize there are a host of other benefits to the grieving process, but these are some of the most significant. Yet, as I share with you that grieving is good, I must be sure to remind you that while it’s okay to go there, you can’t allow yourself to stay there.
Grieving is good – depression is not. So, may I gently remind you that your destination is healing for your heart, not plunging into your pain.
Grief is often what your heart feels when your mind won’t quit racing. It’s an ache that can’t be eased with a few kind words or even a heartfelt hug. It’s a personal place that only you can go and only you can leave. But you can’t be like Asaph who refused to be comforted. Look at what Psalms 77:1-2 says…
“I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me. In the day of my trouble I seek the Lord; in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying; my soul refuses to be comforted.”
You can’t allow yourself to refuse to be comforted.
When you see through the eyes of grief, nothing else matters and your view of life and reality can often be skewed. It’s important to grieve, but you must know how to grieve well. That means you must know how to tame the thoughts that taunt your heart and weary your mind.
Your heart may be grieving, but the battle to leave where your heart wants to stay begins and ends in the mind. So, that’s where you fight to inch your way out of the grave of grief one thought at a time.
Below is part of a workshop I recently did at a speaking engagement. I hope it will help you in your journey to take every thought captive.
THE BATTLE BEGINS AND ENDS IN THE MIND
2 Cor 10:3-6, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ”
Name Some Obstacles That Prevent Us From Moving On in the Journey to Healing –
CHOOSING PAIN – hold us captive (when we choose to stay where we should only visit, it holds us captive)
BELIEVING LIES – distorts our perspective (don’t believe the lies of the enemy – you can keep going – you will smile again)
DISTRACTIONS – divert our focus (you can’t keep looking back forever – don’t allow yesterday’s pain to steal today’s reality)
COMPARING – makes us feel less than (don’t look at relationships that others have and wonder why your loved one is gone)
FEAR – displays doubt / lack of faith (fear will paralyze you and prevent progress in your journey to healing)
YOU WILL HAVE TO FIGHT TO PREVENT THE GRIP OF GRIEF. YOU’RE WEAPON IS GOD’S WORD
Ephesians 6:17, “and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God…”
Offensive weapons are used intentionally. To intentionally use the Word of God as a filter, I must first KNOW THE WORD OF GOD.
TOOLS TO FIGHT THE BATTLE OF THE MIND
Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
What we think about God, ourselves, our circumstances and others should BE FILTERED THROUGH GOD’S WORD.
How to use God’s Word as our ‘Thought Filter ‘ –
TAKING EVERY THOUGHT CAPTIVE
Philippians 4:8-9, “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
Make a “Whatever” List – (Make a list of those things that used to make you smile. It’s okay to include some of the things about your loved one, but keep it to a minimum. List things that are lovely, virtuous, good, praiseworthy, ect… and then…THINK ON THESE THINGS)
ESTABLISH PRAYER TARGETS
Every time grieving thoughts try to bombard your heart begin to pray for your lost family and friends, pray for people you know and people you don’t; pray for your neighborhood and your nation, for pastors and missionaries; pray for the sick; pray for our soldiers; pray for God’s kingdom to come and His will to be done.
Just pray. And when waves of grief begin to threaten your heart…pray again – and again – and again!
Psalm 55:15-16, “As for me, I will call upon God, And the LORD shall save me. Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, And He shall hear my voice.”
Ephesians 4:23, “And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind[having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude]”
Psalm 94:19 , “When my anxious thoughts multiply within me,Your consolations delight my soul.”
Sweet friend, grieving can be good – for a season. Go there. Benefit from this place of pain. But don’t allow yourself stay there. Remember, the destination is healing. The goal is to come to the place where your heart lets you off of the grief train. And each step of the way, you’re going to have to take your thoughts captive. So, wallow in the Word of God, make yourself a “Whatever List” and begin to establish prayer targets.
And then you find yourself coming up for air one breath at a time until you finally find yourself living again.
GRIEVING THE LOST
Okay, dear ones – I’m going to address something that must be addressed – like it or not. This is real life and not all dogs go to heaven – and neither do all people. It’s a painful truth that breaks the heart of everyone who has lost someone that may have been lost.
It happened when my husband lost his dad and it was an incomprehensible place of pain for both of us. But something just as incomprehensible happened in the midst of it all. Peace. God gave us both peace.
The truth is, we don’t know what his eternal destiny is. We don’t hold the keys to heaven and hell. We aren’t able to truly judge the heart. Only God can do that!
I know that sometimes people live as if they don’t know Christ, but if David would have died somewhere between his adulterous affair and his murderous coverup, we would have wondered whether or not he really knew God.
For those of you who are grappling with the eternity of your loved one, I want to encourage your heart with the fact that we just don’t know. We aren’t the judge, God is – and God is always good and always just – regardless of the circumstances.
We don’t know the condition of the heart of the ones we loved. Perhaps they didn’t profess Christ throughout their whole life, yet, we’re comforted to know the thief on the cross entered into eternal life with his dying cry for Christ. (Luke 23:42)
When you aren’t sure about your loved one’s eternal existence, trust the eternal God whose character assures us that He is righteous, good, holy and true.
Your need, sweet friend, is to grieve well – to go through the steps we discussed earlier in this post and to look at your own life through the lens of eternity. While your loved one may have left you wondering whether or not they are in heaven…we should never live a life that causes others to wonder where we are after we die.
As I close out our series on grief, I want you to know I am praying for you! You have a special place in my heart and I hope I have encouraged you to see with new eyes. Eyes that see Christ beyond the pain, beyond the funeral fog and beyond the wake of emotions that have been left by your loss.
Please continue to email me and let me know how you’re doing. We’re in this journey together and I count it a privilege to pray with you and for you!