Monday, April 11, 2016

Grief, An Ocean Of Tears

He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
(Isaiah 53:3)
I grew up and spent most of my life far, far away from any seashore. From reading, I knew a little about tides and shorelines, but a recent discovery of surf fishing has helped me learn a great deal more. I have learned that the tide comes in and it goes out. I've also learned that because of earth's relationship with its moon, some high tides are higher than others and some low tides lower than others. But, no matter how they change, they keep coming and going. 
Grief is like the tides. There are stages of grief like denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance, but we don't really make our way through the stages to healing. When we grieve it's like we are standing out in the surf while grief ebbs and flows in and around us. Like the tide, it is sometimes more intense and sometimes much less so. Sometimes, like the tide, grief recedes so far that we find ourselves standing on dry land, feeling normal again.

When something happens to us - the loss of someone precious to us - we are not like a fisherman. We didn't choose to wade out into the surf. We were thrown into it. Other times, we do choose to wade out into grief. We choose it because a friend is there. We choose it because we know Jesus is there, too. He is near the broken-hearted, so we draw near the broken-hearted. He is the man of sorrows acquainted with grief, so we wade out with Him. He entered this world, not just to comfort, but to deliver. So, we wade out not just to comfort, but to be His hands and heart to help heal. 

Our goal is not to stay there, but to move gently and continuously closer to the shoreline. The goal is to heal from the loss. Christ did not remain the man of sorrows. He waded in, He laid His life down, and He took it up again so that we could grieve, not as others, but with hope.

If you find yourself thrown into the angry waves of grief, make it your goal to get to shore as quickly as you can. It will not be easy, but it is possible with Christ. There is a difference, I think, between missing someone and grieving their loss. To heal from grief is to move away from the pain of it, but it is not to forget the person or stop missing them. Grief is never fully healed until we are in the arms of Jesus. Even when we reach the shore, there will be days when memories will touch our hearts like a high tide that has reached our feet while we sit on the shore.  

If you are grieving, or you have waded out into the waves with someone who is, remember these four things: 1) You need Jesus. You need the one who is already with you. 2) You need help. You need someone else with you. Grief often causes us to lose our bearings. We need that person to be with us for comfort, but also to help us keep our bearings. We need them to gently and continually point us toward the shore so that we do not move further into deeper water, drowning in our sorrow. 3) You need to keep moving. Continually remind yourself to keep moving further away from the waves toward the safety of the beech. It's not enough to know you need to be healed. Healing from grief must be your goal so that you always keep moving toward it. Our love for people we have lost can lead us to believe that we should always grieve for them. You will not forget them, nor will you dishonor them if you stop grieving. Actually, you will honor them if you live. It is God's intention that we live, not that we be swallowed up by grief until we die. 4) You need more than any person can give. Only God can heal. So, fill your heart and mind with His promises and pray. If you are the one helping, you are not the healer. You are just the helper. Be there, pray, point toward the shore, but remember that God is the healer.