Grief: Take Away the Stone
Has anyone ever said something encouraging - with good intentions - but what they said, not only didn’t help, but made you feel angry? “One day you’ll understand why this happened… there’s something better out there… there’s someONE better... “ Kind words often grate our patience when we are dealing with grief. When words fail, what remains to heal our broken hearts? When dealing with grief, you need more than encouraging words to get you through.
It’s unfortunate, but it’s reality - I’ve been confronted with a lot of grief recently. My own, in ways, but mostly the grief of family and friends. Sickness, loss of loved ones, infertility, dashed dreams. Empathy and understated sadness is the new black, it seems. I won’t pretend to have lived long enough with wisdom to usher in healing words, but my spirit naturally answers with, “Jesus.”
What do you do with that answer though? What normally happens is, you look for Jesus and don’t feel him near. The response to grief is typically anger and isolation, believing that no one understands - not even Jesus. You build up walls, entombing yourself with excuses for your rage and pain.
Think of the story of Lazarus. Jesus was absent during Lazarus’s pain and then he died and then he was put in a grave. I’ve felt like Jesus was absent from my pain, then even blamed Him for my pain! Here’s what we need to remember: Jesus always shows up. Maybe not in the way we expect to experience Him, but he always shows up. When Jesus finally came to Mary and Martha after receiving words of Lazarus’s death, Jesus said, “Take away the stone” (John 11:39 ESV).
Take down the walls of anger, remove the barrier of isolation. It’s time to come out of the grave and start living again.
When you’re grieving, it’s easy to become too familiar with the grief and repeat some unnecessary, unhealthy responses. So, what you need to do when Jesus finally shows up is answer Him. Don’t stay in that tomb of bitterness, denial, or anger for one more second. Soften your heart and let people encourage you with their words, let them be there for you, and share your life even though you don’t feel like there’s much to share.
If you know someone grieving, show up for them. You can use words to encourage them, but they might get thrown in your face. Stay unoffendable. Really, you need to show up and be consistent, be positive and inclusive. More than anything, pray for them and ask the Holy Spirit to “take away the stone” over their life.
“The deepest pains may linger through the night, but joy greets the soul with the smile of morning.” Psalm 30:5 (The Voice)