Allowing Grief to take Place

I ran across a quote the other day that speaks volumes: “For those who love life, immortality is no consolation in death” – Simone de Beauvoir. We understand, as Christians, that death has lost its ultimate power over us. We know, from Scripture, that our immortal soul, once redeemed by Jesus, will spend eternity with Him. We are even told that it will be reunited with a new body in heaven. Yet, we still grieve over the death of a loved one. This is appropriate on two levels.

First, if the one we have lost was not a believer in Jesus Christ, we grieve because they are truly gone. There is no meeting them again in the afterlife. Their death, for all intents and purposes, is final for us. That relationship we had with them has been sundered forever. Truly, it is appropriate to grieve for them.

Second, even if the person was a believer, even with the hope we have of being reunited with them in heaven, it is appropriate to grieve the loss. For now, the fellowship has been broken, Things are not the same. While we do not grieve as those who have no hope this does not mean we cannot or should not grieve. Death is an intruder, an interloper. It is not without reason the New Testament calls it “the last enemy.”

We grieve over loss because we have been cut off, at least temporarily, from the ones we love. For instance, we may be glad that a child is doing well at college across the country. We expectantly look forward to Christmas break when we will see them again but it doesn’t mute the emptiness of their bedroom we pass everyday. Death magnifies those feelings because we cannot call them on the phone and hear their voice like we can one separated only by distance.

One of the tragedies of our society, as well as today’s church, is not allowing people to adequately grieve. Because we are embarrassed for them or because we have not processed our own grief, we do not allow them to fully grieve and begin the road to healing. When Lazarus died, it wasn’t just Mary and Martha that mourned. Jesus did too. He knew He could resurrect Lazarus. He knew He was going to resurrect Lazarus and yet He still grieved. Knowing that it was okay for our Lord to grieve should be good enough for allowing His children to grieve also. It is a natural response to loss that must be allowed and there is no right way or wrong way to grieve, nor is there a time frame after which it is not allowable. The only restriction placed on grieving in the Bible is that we are not to grieve without hope, as a pagan might.

Modern psychology doesn’t help either. Since Freud’s time it has looked upon grief as a disease, as though it were a sickness like mumps or chicken pox, easily cured with the right combination of drugs or therapies. Only when we accept that for now, until a new heaven and earth are made by God, that suffering and loss are a normal part of our existence and grief is a normal reaction to loss, will we be able to help individuals cope with grief. We will sit with them, cry with them, wonder why with them and listen to their pain without offering stupid, meaningless platitudes. In short, we will experience their life with them and, in doing so, enrich both ours and theirs.

I leave you with this quote:  “We are told that it is perfectly legitimate for believer to suffer grief. Our Lord Himself was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Though grief may reach to the root of our souls it must not result in bitterness. Grief is a legitimate emotion, at times even a virtue, but there must be no place in the soul for bitterness.” R.C. Sproul, The Dark Night of the Soul, Tabletalk, March 2008

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Zacchaeus and Transformation

Zacchaeus was a wee little man and a wee little man was he
He climbed up in a sycamore tree for the Lord he wanted to see

These opening lines to the children’s song Zacchaeus are, unfortunately, the only thing many Christians know about this man. “Oh yeah, he was short and climbed a tree to see Jesus.” What so many fail to realize is that he is one of the supreme examples in Scripture on the issue of repentance and transformation. His turning from a life of skimming extra money from his job to repaying four times the amount he had stolen is unparalleled. The transformation from a despicable tax collector to a disciple is as complete as it is unexpected.

As we continue work on The 180° Project, Ta Ethne hopes to introduce the reader to the awesome power of God demonstrated in many lives, including Zacchaeus. Repentance is such a crucial component to the gospel that we feel compelled to bring resources that will help the Christian church worldwide both understand it better and proclaim it more. Join in prayer with us about this exciting project and if you have any powerful stories about repentance, please share them with us at taethne@outlook.com

 

New Resource Coming

The debut of the newest resource from Ta Ethne is here! Dominos: A Dynamic Commentary on Jude is finally available in digital form on Kindle. This weekend, Friday the 21st through Sunday the 23rd it will be free to download. The print version of this resource will be available before the end of the month from Amazon and also directly from us. We are excited to offer this, the first in a series of commentaries we are planning for the future.
Pass the word and make sure to grab your free copy this weekend. We believe you will enjoy it. Watch for announcements of the print debut later in June.

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Tuesday Book Review — Listening Skills

Yes, yes, I know that I normally post these on Wednesdays, but due to a busy schedule we are putting it up early this week. This is a good read for all ministers and those who desire to become better listeners. I would recommend that everyone in a church leadership position be required to read this.

Listening & Caring Skills: A Guide for Groups and LeadersListening & Caring Skills: A Guide for Groups and Leaders by John S. Savage
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A required read for a class I am taking this summer, I approached the book with some skepticism. I have been pleasantly surprised to find this book practical. While I might use different terms than the author to describe some of the skills mentioned, I have no real quibble with his observations. This book is good for both individuals and groups. What has been fascinating to me, is reading about a particular tactic used and thinking, “hey, that’s what I’ve been doing,” without knowing what the label was. Grab it, it will help you become a better listener.

View all my reviews