Matthew 5:4 Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
I believe we live in a culture that makes it hard to mourn and grieve when one suffers a loss of any kind. Think about how much effort so many of us make to not be sad. I know I do not like to feel sadness and I will jump through all kinds of hoops just to avoid most forms of sadness.
Briefly, I would like to describe some ways we as a culture avoid mourning and grief. First, when a child loses a pet, what is the first thing a parent will say? It may sound something like this, “Don’t be sad, we’ll get you another one.” We try to replace our loss hoping we will feel better. Do we really love the replacement pet as much as the first? No, we have not grieved the loss of the first one. A second form of grief avoidance is the idea that “time heals all wounds.” Time does not heal, God heals. Time allows for healing to take place. However, if one does not grieve properly, time will only create a wound that will fester and cause other problems in life. A fourth form of grief avoidance is to bury it and move on as if life is normal. As a culture, we have taken a virtue like perseverance and created a “push through all things” mentality. This only creates a powder keg ready to explode at any time. The final grief avoidance practice is a “don’t let them see you cry attitude.” This type of avoidance teaches us to cry alone. Healing for grief comes from community. Grieving alone prolongs the sadness.
How God wants us to handle grief is opposed to what our culture advocates. I believe, according to this passage, to be comforted, we must feel our sadness to completion. One sociologist believes that if we try to numb the emotions like sadness, anger, and fear we will also numb happiness, excitement, and tenderness. We cannot selectively numb the emotions or we will not be able to feel what we consider positive emotions. In order to feel joy and happiness, we must feel sadness to completion. I believe this is part of what God is saying that we “will be comforted.” When we feel our grief and sadness, we are released to feel joy and happiness again.
Although death tends to be the most severe or traumatic form of loss, it is not the only form of loss one can experience. Divorce is a form of loss that also needs grief or mourning. In fact, divorce is difficult in a different way. Because the loss does not have a finality like death, constant reminders of grief can last for years because in a lot of cases, the other party is still around. The loss of employment requires grief and mourning. These are two major areas besides death that cause grief, but there are many other areas where grief and sadness need to be felt to completion.
I invite you to look at places in your life where you have not mourned or grieved loss. Reflect on how you handled your emotions. Do you need to spend a time period in grief so that God can heal you, comfort you, and release you to feel more joy and happiness in your life?
Here are some steps you can take to mourn and grieve properly. First, ask God to be part of the process. Second, admit that you have a loss in your life. Third, admit the emotion of sadness and maybe even fear and anger around this loss. Fourth, find someone or a group of people who can support you through this time. Finally, feel your loss to completion and allow God to fill your heart with what is needed for you.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
1. Describe a time of loss in your life.
2. How did you handle that loss?
3. Describe how you handled the emotions around that loss. What were some consequences for you handling the emotions in an unhealthy way?
4. Do you see a connection between a lack of joy and some loss in your life?
5. This week, think about a loss in your life you did not face with grief and mourning. Ask God to come in to your heart and help you to work through that situation.
Note: It is never too late to go back and grieve losses. In my own life, I never really grieved the loss of my Grandmother whose life was taken by a drunk driver. Many years later in therapy it was revealed to me that I had not grieved that loss. I spent some time in grief then and was comforted and released to feel joy and peace in my life. I invite you to walk into that place in your life and gain healing that you may not know you needed.
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