Entry #3(a) - Mourning the loss of someone or some thing
Back to 1 Peter 1:6-7...as I am still processing the distress of trials and how they test my faith. I wasn't prepared for trials or how to handle the distressed brought on by the various trials of life. By that I mean I didn't know what to do with the emotions caused by trials in light of my faith in Jesus.
I heard verses like 1 Peter 6-7 telling me that I should greatly rejoice or people would remind me of the verse from James saying to count my trial all joy and I determined in my own mind it must mean that I shouldn't feel the deep emotions of pain or loss. I mean, I have Jesus, so all is well - right? It took me years to figure out that I could be grieving deeply over the loss of a loved one or even a shattered dream and still be standing on the word of God and strong in my faith.
Deep sorrow and strong faith can co-exist. They do co-exist.
Please don't assume that because I am mourning and weeping that I am not also greatly rejoicing and counting it all joy at the same time. I can know, understand and believe that God is using my loss to strengthen my faith and have confidence that He will work it together for good. But at that moment, those amazing, beautiful, miraculous truths do not stop the pain of the loss. Sure, knowing these truths bring comfort, but it takes time for the searing pain of loss to subside.
In times of mourning and weeping, we do need those around us who can speak truth into our lives and situation. But, for the most part, we just need the presence of those who love us and who don't get tired of our weeping and understand why we mourn. They aren't trying to talk us out of it, tell us stories of how others handled their grief, remind us to greatly rejoice or count it all joy, or even say anything at all. Just be there with hugs and tissues. Sit with us. Mourn and weep with us. Don't give up and please don't go away. Just be there and keep being there. When you start getting concerned, feel helpless, think the mourning should be over - pray fervently. Soothe and comfort with God's word that reminds He is our collecting tears in His bottle and takes account of our wanderings. Pray over us who are suffering loss reminding us of His love, presence, and power.
When you don't know what to do or say, then just don't do or say anything. Hugs and "I am so sorry" are always appropriate.
Years and years ago when studying Philippians 3, I highlighted in pink in my Bible verses 3:7-11. I was suffering the loss of something great...a shattered dream. Paul's words grabbed my heart, and at that moment, I longed to experience what Paul had experienced as he had suffered many losses. He said that whatever things were gain to him he counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Paul went on to say that he counted all things as loss given the surpassing value of knowing Christ for whom He's suffered the loss of all things and counted them as nothing so that he may gain Christ...be found in Him, know Him and the power of His resurrection and fellowship in His sufferings. Wow. It's obvious Paul knows a thing or two about suffering and the joy it produces. Suffering loss is inevitable, so I determined I want to know, understand and experience the outcome of suffering that Paul experienced.
But the point here is that in Paul's loss, there was suffering. Folks, suffering is suffering. Yes, Paul gained more and more of Christ, and that is a wonderful and beautiful truth for us all in our suffering. But please don't think for a moment that suffering loss is not painful. Or, because you have Jesus loss doesn't equal pain and hurt. In our suffering, there is sweet, sweet comfort from the Lord. Why some of the sweetest times with my Lord have been in the midst of suffering my greatest losses. But it still hurts. Suffering loss hurts real bad. Even when you know, it's going to be okay and good is coming.
I think we need to learn the value of mourning and weeping. Even encourage it. I'm reminded as I write this that there are mentions of God's word of times of mourning. Back in the day they actually had a specific period of time set aside to mourn. Why the Lord even calls us to mourn and weep over sin.
As I see it, we avoid feeling at this deep level because it hurts. We don't want to hurt, and we don't like watching others hurt, so we don't go there - to the point of mourning and weeping. We don't want to hurt so we avoid the mourning and weeping. When we can't hold it back, we try to hide it. We are sure others are as tired of our hurting as we are. But, if we never learn the value of mourning and weeping, then we'll never learn to mourn and weep over our sin or the sin of the world.
So today as I reflect further on 1 Peter1:6-7, I ask myself:
- When was the last time I gave myself over to mourning and weeping?
- When was the last time I mourned and wept with another?
- When was the last time I mourned and wept over my own sin or the sin of others?
Oh Lord, teach me how to mourn and weep from a Biblical perspective - Your perspective.