Friday, March 28, 2008

Dealing with Grief Biblically

Dear Mike: I got a call this morning from a friend who is attending meetings on grief conducted at her church. She is attending because of the loss of a grandchild. I asked my friend what Scriptures they were giving out. She said no scriptures were used, just stuff from various books. She told me she thought they should be using the Bible. I agreed wholeheartedly and mentioned Ps. 138 and 139 where God's sovereignty is very plain. That was all that came off the top of my head while we were chatting. She wrote that down and intends to give that info to the ladies. What sciptures would you recommend?

Thanks for your help.


Hi Marjorie,

One thing that might help is if your friend understands that God knows how she feels and hates death as much as she does. David wept over the death of his son, Absalom (2 Sam. 18:33). God wrote Psalm 88 which is about being overwhelmed by enemies and depending on the translation verse 18 says, "You have taken my companions and loved ones from me; the darkness is my closest friend." Psalm 46:1 tells us that God is an ever present help in times of trouble, the opportunity for grief is a time of trouble. Death is an enemy and while it is a part of this fallen world, we shouldn't think of it as it is something that is normal, like breathing (1 Cor. 15:26). In fact that whole chapter talks about God's remedy for the final destruction of death. God knows about death. He sent his son to die for us (Acts 2:23). Even though he knew the outcome (Heb. 12:2), Jesus did all he could do to avoid it (Luke 22:42).

The good news is that death will have an end. There will be a resurrection from the dead and everyone who is in Christ will be reunited with a joy filled party (1 Cor. 15).

But emotions attend us all when faced with death. Here are a few psalms where God's people have poured out their hearts to God: 13, 22, 38, 42, 55, 61, 73, 88 (this in addition to those you mentioned: 138, 139).

Another thing that helps is to know that God hears our weeping (Psalm 6:8, 34:15; 40:1; 55:22). In light of this fact we should run to him for comfort and uplifting (2 Cor. 1:3-4). Sometimes people run to bottles, tv, various groups, work, etc.) when they really need to run to the one who loves them and can give them real comfort.

Some temptations that often accompany grief: Doubt (what if God doesn't really care or exist?)--Matt. 14:25-33, Anger--Eph. 4:26--anger in the face of death is the right thing to feel, but direct it in the right direction. It should be focused on death and then taken to the cross where death was destroyed. God shouldn't be the one we are angry with. Envy is another temptation that often accompanies grief. Romans 13:13 tells us not to fall into envy. The temptation is to envy those who haven't been touched by death and wishing we had their life. But envy shows a dissatisfaction with what God has given us--a lack of gratitude and a self centeredness that will eventually rule our lives if not dealt with in a godly way. Another temptation that should be avoided is that of self-pity.

One aid to dealing with grief is to be with other people who are glorifying God by living their lives in joy and service. the Bible tells us to bear one another's burdens (Gal 6:2) and being with others and letting them bear your friends burdens will help draw her into the arms of the Savior who died for her.

Finally, as difficult as it is it is important for the grieving person to actively work to serve God in the simple ways: Praising God for all things (Isa 25:1; Phil. 4:8); giving thanks in all things (1 Thess. 5:18); keep participating in worship (Heb. 10:21-25), turn her eyes from her own pain to ministering to others (2 Cor. 1:3-4), and work hard to see God in every area of life (Rom. 1:19; Heb. 12:1-3.

I hope this helps.

The basic structure of this response came from Paul Tripp's booklet, Grief: Finding Hope Again.

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