“Have you cried about it?” That’s the question a wise counselor asked me recently. He asked me in the context of a discussion. And I know I’m not alone. This public health crisis and economic challenge have left none of us unscathed when it comes to feelings of loss. From routines to convenience to meaningful events like graduations and birthday parties, we have all been affected. “Have you cried about it?” After a pause, he said this ... “It’s a good time to cry.” He was inviting me to grieve.
For most of us, we run away from grief and sadness. We deny it or try to escape from it (addiction is the most common way to do this). We want nothing to do with it. But grief and loss is an important theme in the Bible. In fact, the Bible articulates the perspective that grief can actually be good.
The normal way we mature in the Christian life is trials, difficulty and pain. Though none of us want grief (nor should we), grieving actually transforms us into deeper people. This even happened for Jesus, who “learned obedience in what He suffered.” (Hebrews 5:8). Grief invites us to become deeper people. As Pete Scazzero says, “Without familiarity with sorrow, we don’t mature.”
Grieving also makes us more compassionate people. It’s no coincidence that Jesus, who grieved deeply (Isaiah refers to him as “a man of sorrows”) is described as compassionate more than anything else in the Gospels. When we attend to our own grief, we grow in our capacity to have empathy for other people in their grief. The Apostle Paul says, “Mourn with those who mourn” (Romans 12:15). The truth is if we don’t mourn our own griefs, we will be limited in our compassion for others in theirs.
So what are you grieving right now? And how might God be inviting you, in the midst of it, to become a deeper, more wholehearted, compassionate person? Like David, let’s pour out our hearts before Him, because He is our refuge (Psalm 62:8).
Matt Murphy is lead pastor at Grace Fellowship Church in Johnson City.