(Photo by Selma Komisky)
Dealing with Unexpected Grief
By Michelle Ochen
Flowers on a casket, the unexpected break up call, the meeting that ended your job, the move that took you far away – life is filled with sorrows and most come unexpectedly. If we could prepare ourselves for them, we would still be unprepared, but somehow the surprise of them seems to cut a little deeper. When sorrowful times come, we take comfort in others who have walked through such valleys and find themselves upon the mountaintops once again.
Adam bore the sorrow of losing his son by family murder, Jacob buried his beloved Rachel along the road, Job received news that all his children were killed under one roof, Esther’s whole race was to be exterminated, Esau lost his rightful blessing by deceit, David never got to say goodbye to Jonathan, and Jesus lost both a cousin and then a friend, bringing His eyes to weep. Sorrow is unavoidable in a fallen world, so then the question is – how do we deal with such unexpected grief?
I do not think there is any magical step by step process that makes it hurt any less; but, there is One who is able to heal the wounds and bring comfort in the pain. Trusting in the sovereignty of God in the midst of grief and sorrow gives strength to the soul. Knowing that it was no surprise to God, and that all things are filtered by love, helps the heart to allow the sorrow to accomplish something good. People commonly react to grief in two ways: brokenness looking for comfort or anger looking for revenge. Know that grief is not the heart of God; He created us for Eden, but the consequences of sin have wrought grief and sorrow. God cannot be blamed. He bore the ultimate sorrow to bring mankind salvation from sin and the hope for eternal life where He will wipe away every tear from our eyes, where sorrow and grief will be heard no more.
As we approach the holiday season, commonly the sorrows we have faced seem fresh again. Perhaps it is the reality that someone dear to you will not be around the dinner table? Whatever your story, there is yet a reason to be thankful. Let me remind you of the ending of such stories spoken of above: Adam was blessed with another son, Job was given more children and much increase, Rachael’s children went on to bear the nation of Israel, Esther’s people were miraculously saved, and Jesus came and walked the path of sorrow to redeem it. He bore our grief and carried our sorrows (Isaiah 53:4). He understands every pain of the journey and gives comfort in the recovery steps. This is a reason to be thankful. He bore the grief so you don’t have to. He came that you would never be left alone physically and never forsaken emotionally (Hebrews 13:5). He has come to restore what the enemy has stolen and to bring beauty out of sorrows.