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QUESTION: Re Dealing With Grief

Note: This question came to me via our church webpage at www.Plymouth-church.com where I answered it recently on the question page.

I was trying to find the scripture in the Bible that refers to grief…I believe it says grieve for awhile and then??? My step mom is about to lose her father, and she has already let her mother go home to be with the Lord, and I have searched all the scripture about grieving, and could not find it…about to search for a sound mind, may find it there..Thank you and God Bless!!!

Knowing how to help someone who is facing the loss of a very dear one is always hard. I am convinced that sometimes the best thing is just to be there. When Job’s friends came to comfort him, the best thing they did was what they did at first:

When they saw him from a distance, they could hardly recognize him; they began to weep aloud, and they tore their robes and sprinkled dust on their heads. Then they sat on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights. No one said a word to him, because they saw how great his suffering was. – Job 2:12-13

After they began to talk to Job and try to tell him what he ought to be doing, he called them “miserable comforters” (Job 16:2). Their presence sitting with him helped far more than their words did.

No two people grieve in exactly the same way. You may be surprised at your step-mother when she finally does lose her father. I have seen many times when the suffering and grieving was done before the death. (I worked as a chaplain for 10+ years in a nursing home, so I have had plenty of opportunity to observe people as their loved ones die – and immediately after.) Sometimes, the actual death comes as a relief.

The Christian has an advantage when it comes to grief. Paul wrote about this advantage to the newly-planted church in Thessalonica:

Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him. – 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14

He did not ask them not to grieve. He did say that they had no need to grieve as other people grieve when they have no hope. The Christian has a firm, sure hope that Jesus will bring with Him those who have died in Him. Even in the Old Testament, the Psalmist wrote:

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His saints. – Psalm 116:15.

Even Jesus grieved at the tomb of His friend, Lazarus. The shortest verse in the English Bible is “Jesus wept” (John 11:35). This was when He came to the tomb of Lazarus. He wept, knowing full well that He would raise Lazarus from the dead in a matter of minutes! His tears give us permission to grieve, as His tears bless our tears and give them the power to be an expression of a holy love.

I do not know of a passage that tells us to grieve for just a little while and then to put it away from us. In one sense, the grieving never ends in this world. How long do you think God has grieved over the senseless suffering of mankind, suffering that many people want to blame on Him. In our fallen world, many things cause suffering. Sickness and death are high on that list, but they are certainly not there alone. Even the earth itself has been cursed by man’s sinfulness, and the curse of the earth brings greater misery to people as well.

The Scripture speaks of death as an enemy that will finally be destroyed when the Lord returns and His kingdom is handed back to God (1 Corinthians 15:25-26). That promise gives us hope, even in the time of suffering.

The greatest antidote to grief is hope. The person who can rest in the promises of God will grieve – but will also have assurance that God will see them through it. For this reason, one of the things you can do to help your step-mother is to help her (if she does not have them already) find faithful counselors and friends who know and love the Lord. You will need to be with her and support her as well, at least as much as you can.

Write to me again to let me know how she – and you – are doing.


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