Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 18 Number 1 January 2016
Page 7

Priscilla's Page Editor's Note

God’s Way for Us to Cope
with Loss, Sorrow and Grief, #6

Marilyn LaStrape

In his book, Disrupted—Finding God in Illness and Loss, Virgil M. Fry includes a chapter entitled, “The Only Way Out Is Through.” He wrote:

We Americans live in a death-denying culture… It’s okay to hurt briefly if a gain (fitness, prestige) can be realized. It’s not okay to hurt (at least publicly) over losses from sickness, divorce or brokenness. Grief counselors know it takes months and years for family members and friends to process their grief, to reconcile themselves to permanent separation, to find hope and peace and comfort in daily living.

The true Gospel message is this: God has cared, is caring, and will always care. God loves. God comforts. God hears. God is. The implication for us: No one hurts alone. We can admit our pain without fearing rejection. We can allow ourselves time to share memories, distress and turmoil. We can cling to the assurance that there’s more to life than what we experience here. We can remember that brokenness, sickness, evil, and death all sting—but they don’t have to have the final word. Indeed, the only way out is through. (82-83)

Paul says it this way in 2 Corinthians 15:56-57, “The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” In the magazine, Think–Current Issues from a Distinctly Christian View, the theme for the February 2014 issue was “Coping with Death and Loss.” In that issue is Daniel Howell’s article, “Victory Over Death.” He wrote, “Death really is the last great enemy of mankind—or at least the only enemy to whom every person loses. Unless the Lord returns first, death in some form or fashion will visit each and every one of us, no matter what we do to try and escape its grasp (Hebrews 9:27)” (19). This passage reads, “And it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.” Death truly is the great equalizer!

Daniel Howell also makes several hope-filled observations from Scripture.

The fact that Jesus defeated death through death is really quite amazing to think about. Our Savior did not stand aloof from death, shaking His fist at it from afar. He faced death in a “head on” fashion. He physically suffered in ways that go beyond our ability to imagine, to the point that His flesh and blood body died. He allowed death to appear to win, but only for three short days. Then He proved that He is indeed the Son of God by rising from the dead (Romans 1:4). (19)

Our Lord suffered incomprehensible agony as He faced the cross. Being in agony, He prayed more earnestly. His sweat became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground (Luke 22:44-45). H. Leo Boles states in his A Commentary on the Gospel According to Luke, “The original here denotes progressive agony; he progressed from the first prayer into an intense struggle of prayer and sorrow. ‘Agony’ is only found here; …this is another evidence peculiar to Luke, the physician. Cases of great mental anguish, causing drops of blood to ooze from the body like sweat, are known to medical authorities” (425).

Shortly before Jesus was crucified, Matthew 26:42 records Him saying in prayer, “O My Father, if this cup cannot pass away from Me unless I drink it, Your will be done” (emphasis added). A Commentary on The Gospel According to Matthew by H. Leo Boles says, “His humanity quailed beneath the suffering and He sought strength in earnest prayer… This was a degree of mental anguish of which we may speak in words, but can only form a feeble conception” (510).

Grief Must Be Faced and
Then Journeyed Through!

The Journey Through
the Grieving Process

  1. Understand grief is inevitable when you lose a significant loved one. If you want to recover and heal, you must go through the grieving process.
  2. Understand this grieving process is going to be long and dreadfully painful!
  3. Understand initial shock and disbelief is good, as long as it is temporary; otherwise complete acceptance is a very slow process.
  4. Understand busyness will not heal your grief. Trying to forget by staying busy is short-lived at best and is ultimately ineffective. You must allow grief to run its course in order to sustain mental wellness.
  5. Understand you must be committed to the journey of recovery from loss, sorrow and grief.
  6. Understand you will be made better on the “other side” of this most painful experience. You will come to know how to empathize and sympathize with others as you comfort, support and console them.
  7. Understand and embrace the biblical teaching that suffering must be rightly endured! This is true when we experience grief from the loss of any loved one, and especially if the loss was of major significance.

God works all things good and bad to accomplish His plan and purpose and perfects us through the experience. This acknowledgement helps us to remember whatever He does, whatever He allows, He is always pursuing our eternal salvation! Psalm 115:1 says, “Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but to Your name give glory, because of Your mercy, because of Your truth.” Psalm 119:67 reads, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep Your word.” Psalm 119:71 declares, “It was good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes.”

There will be virtually countless decisions to make about an unbelievable number of things. Pray for the wisdom that is from above (James 3:17-18). Ask God for wisdom in the daily choices you must make during the grieving process. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). Some of the daily choices will be:

Death is inevitable and irrevocable. We must look to God always to sustain and strengthen us as we face the deep, shattering losses of life. The only way out of it all is through Him!

Works Cited

Boles, H. Leo. A Commentary on the Gospel According to Luke. Nashville: Gospel Advocate, 1991.

- - -. A Commentary on the Gospel According to Matthew. Nashville: Gospel Advocate, 1989.

Fry, Virgil M. Disrupted – Finding God in Illness and Loss. Nashville: 21st Century Christian, 1999.

Howell, Daniel. “Victory Over Death.” Think. February 2014: 19.

Manning, Doug. The Reality of Grief, Continuing Care Series. Book Two. Oklahoma City: In-Sight Books, 2002.

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