Grief is never wrong, but there is a wrong type of grief.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again,
even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. For this we declare to you by a word from the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep. For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words.
Even with the old adage ringing in our ears, it is still possible to cheat the tax man, but you will never cheat death.
Death embraces all.
And with death comes parting, and with parting comes grief.
If you have not known it, it simply tells me you have not yet lived long enough.
Grief cuts like no other pain. It’s burning sear leaves scars that will last a lifetime.
This will always be so, because the depth of our grief is in direct proportion to the depth of our love. To love someone is to send an invitation to grief, who will one day come knocking at your door.
So in large part, the world runs from grief. It seems that the human soul can bear many pains, but the agony of grief is the one we fear the most. Many would choose their own death over the death of a loved one, primarily because, “I could not bear losing you”.
Yet we must not think that simply because grief is painful that it is inherently wrong. Grief is never wrong. Parting is never easy. Love lost will always ache.
Yet, my Bible tells me that there is a wrong way of grieving. At least, if your life has been found in Christ, if your hope is in the resurrection reality of a Saviour who died for you yet rose again to defeat death, then grief isn’t wrong, but we can have the wrong type of grief.
Grief and hope are strange bedfellows. Yet Paul ties them together in a marriage of tears that we are told to encourage one another with.
If you are a follower of ‘The Way’, ‘The Truth’ and ‘The Life’, you will grieve in a peculiar direction. Your grief is ever upward; tears streaming and heart hurting, but with expectant eyes that are fixed on the coming reality of an eternal reunion.
‘We’ (plural) will be with ‘Him’ (singular).
Jesus will be the Sun of a new constellation, as countless saints are reunited in an eternal orbit of worship around the object of our mutual love.
So Paul says that that reality should underpin our grief.
Don’t grieve in the wrong direction.
There are few things more beautiful than to experience grief-laced worship beside a grave. Nothing exalts the name of Jesus more than when the grief stricken lift their eyes to eternity, and there see a living Saviour, then through their pain genuinely sing:
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
It is well with my soul,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
Let this blest assurance control,
That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
If Jordan above me shall roll,
No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!
And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.
To the praise of His glory.