If we love then we will not make it through life without experiencing grief.
Strategies for dealing with grief.
In my last vlog I said:
Life’s beauty is inseparable from it fragility.
The greatest beauty is found in love.
With love also comes great grief.
If we love then we will not make it through life without experiencing grief.
Living with arms and hearts that embrace life and love will also bring lose.
This loss can be in the form of the death of a loved one,
Being made redundant from your work place,
A diagnosis that threatens your life,
A business transaction that has been lost,
Lose of business that you have given your life to.
A pandemic that separates, isolates and devastates your security and well being.
BUT WHAT if I could show you a way to processing grief and loss that will lead to a greater depth of joy, a new perspective ON life and new purpose FOR life.
Some real keys to living with and through grief.
First: When we deal with our grief don’t look at it like its a spiralling downward as much as its a way we move forward through pain and challenge. It’s what Philippians calls the “forgetting what is behind and straining forward”.
Sometimes going forward means straining and grief is THAT.
JESUS lived for 33 years on this earth and he lived in a way that not one moment or experience he had was wasted or of no value to him or those who would know him.
In the Garden of Gethsemane we see him grieving again, weeping over his coming death and wanting the comfort of his friends with him.
In Matthew,: “My soul is sorrowful, even unto death; remain here and watch with me” (Matthew 26:38 ESV).
And, of course, lamenting to God is praying like Jesus did. Jesus prayed a psalm of lament on the cross, crying out “Father, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46, Psalm 22:1 ESV).
Jesus grief was seen over the death of His friend Lazarus.
He loved and in His love for Jerusalem, for humanity, for you and I he experienced real grief.
His grief was not wasted neither is our grief.
You may not see any meaning that can be immediately attached to the grief you are going through but the way you go through your grief could in itself attach meaning to it.
This is a world full of brokenness, and grief reveals the truth about that brokenness.
I think this is a topic again so needed right now more then ever.
It’s a subject that again is
not negative but positive,
not destructive but building,
not disempowering but empowering,
not weak but strong,
not fearful but courageous.
If we lean into grief the way we should we will bring meaning and purpose to what may seem such meaningless circumstances.
Yes I believe when we see no obvious reason for loss and grief we have the grace and ability to bring meaning to it.
Can I first begin by saying sadness and grief though similar are not the same.
If we think of sadness its not depression and its not grief.
Sadness unlike depression and grief is shorter more temporary emotion we have in lose or disappointment.
When we see that 958 people died in England we are sad but for the loved ones of those who died they will experience deep grief.
Our sadness may only last for a few days or until the next commercial or news report of another tragedy or triumph.
Their grief will stay with them in some form or another for the rest of their lives.
When I was diagnosed with MND a terminal illness for those who loved me deeply it was a time of grief for others it was sad to hear about Phil.
And thats ok because none of us who love deeply will go through life without grief.
May I also say that grief can have many levels and layers too it.
If your mother was to die at the age of 98 from natural courses your grief will be real but for you to loss a child at a young age to cancer or some other illness or tragedy. May I suggest that grief would be a whole other level and depth so profound that it would impact your life story for ever.
Grief goes deeper, its life changing, its an experience that brings a changed life.
There is a before and an after this happened when it comes to a life impacted by grief.
Before this loss and after this loss!
For me it was I was healthy before i was not, with this MND.
I will continue to live, love and enjoy life but life will be different and so will I.
Even if I was healed today my life will never be the same as it was before the diagnosis.
Grief has the ability to make us more loving, patient, compassionate, accepting and gentle.
This will only happen if we face up to grief, truth up to it.
To do this with any sense of truth we have to know that with grief,
its ok not to be ok,
until you are ok,
and you will be OK.
When I lost my sense of self worth and significance after being diagnosed with MND and as a result having to leave a job I not only deeply loved but that I had been called to.
I loved being who I was and doing what I did so when I lost that ministry as i knew it then my grief was real and tangible.
Grief is not sinful.
It’s a good and godly response to love and passion lost.
Sometimes we repress grief and try to move through it quickly, or even deny that it is there.
We might fear that it is a sin to feel this way.
If we believe it is sin, it follows that we should move away from this negative feeling quickly.
We fear our grief may cause us to question the presence and work of God in our lives.
What I learned during this time is that it was not the end of me or my life but a continuance of it in ways i never imagined.
I would get up but I would be different.
It was going to be a straining, a stretching, a reaching but not a breaking.
What i suggest you do in your time of grief is be honest with your feelings and emotions.
Either write them down like no one will read them, so there is no filter by what you should say or be expected to say.
Lament to God as though he is the only one who hears and he knows anyway so your not going to shock Him.
Confide in a wise friend, pastor, counsellor, therapist who you can trust with the truth about how your feeling.
Lamenting to God is a good and holy way to grieve.
Listen to a Lament in Psalm 102:1-2
“GOD, listen! Listen to my prayer, listen to the pain in my cries. Don’t turn your back on me just when I need you so desperately. Pay attention! This is a cry for help! And hurry—this can’t wait!”
When you write or talk about your grief your showing up to it.
Life is lived when you move forward with your story not by separating yourself from it.
We become integrated and whole able to move forward in healthy ways.
This week and indeed the months ahead will bring with it sadness for some and grief for others.
If we are global christians we will not just see the blessing of living in Australia at this time but also feel the pain of what many others in our world are going through especially in 3rd world countries where the news seems to have no concern.
The way we move forward with these real emotions will determine the depth of love, joy and wonder that life is.
Without grief we would never really fathom the profoundness of love.
Grief is only possible because we have loved and love is ultimately measured by the depth of our grief.
Grief journeyed rightly, honestly and truthfully will bring new purpose, new direction, new perspective to life.
This new life wont come by ignoring the grief but facing it truthfully and fully until we are change for the better because of it.
Write it down
Lament and pray to God.
Talk to a friend
Confide in a councillor.
Remember grief is a stretching, a straining but its a forward movement not a backward one.
You will be transformed by the experience as you face your grief with grace and truth.
You will find new perspective, new purpose, new love for life and living.
Thanks for listening.
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go to my blog at fridayswithphil.com
God bless you all.
We all make choices. Some of our choices both help and hurt at the same time. They are beneficial but uncomfortable. They are right but they go against the grain.
When you have a debilitating illness, there are certain medications that are prescribed which alleviate pain and the body’s response to illness but at the same time take their toll in other areas.
To help me manage the effects of Motor Neurone Disease (muscle fasciculate, cramps, shakes), my neurologist has given me medication. Unfortunately the drugs come with warnings of blurred vision, dizziness, drowsiness, high blood pressure, weight gain etc. You get the picture.
It’s the dilemma of many people in our world who neither choose the illness, nor choose the effects the drugs may have. But in the end we make a decision, it’s the lesser of these evils.
I wonder, how do you make the right choices in life? Choices like:
What medication do I take, if any?
Will I marry this person?
What degree do I study?
Should we start a family?
Should we buy a house?
Do I spend $200k on a trial drug?
Do I want quality of life or extended life?
Here is how I try to make the right choice.
Don’t let happiness be your guide, let peace. When you have peace, joy is around the corner and joy is a necessary ingredient for lasting happiness and satisfaction. As one person put it, “Being sick well means living with joy despite the illness.”
Seek counsel from experts in their field and wise people. Remember sometimes those with knowledge aren’t the ones who have wisdom. Wisdom is knowing how to use knowledge. Give time to thoughtful contemplation, this is different to just accumulation of facts. Value other people’s opinions but remember they may have different values and life goals to you.
Consider this: what will be the impact on others? Try, to the best of your ability, to play out the consequences and see if it ends with increased experiences of love for you and the ones closest to you. Don’t base your decisions on what YOU want but on what is needed.
Allow your heart to get involved and search for what is instinctively true and right. I’m not talking about what feels good to the senses but what has a deep and pervading “I know” attached to it. It reaches to the personal integrity of what you believe is morally and ethically right.
For me, the Bible has given me some moral and ethical absolutes and prayer helps me practice those by God’s grace. Sometimes the absolutes outweigh the popular and the majority.
Your decision to have life may mean certain things you now live with must die: bad habits, unhealthy relationships, negative thought patterns. In this way, sometimes life is found in death. Don’t let pride or fear stop you from changing a wrong choice or making a right one.
Making the right choice, even those that hurt, is a balance between heart and head. I would encourage you to trust yourself and know yourself, don’t fear what others may think. Sometimes the right decision costs us something personally.
Remember this, right decisions take courage no matter what the outcome may be.
My hope for you today is that you choose the best life possible.
The Bible tells us that love is from God. Love is the primary characteristic of God. More than that, God is love.
God’s love is a non-discriminating, sacrificial, unconditional love.
John 3:16 says, For God so loved the world (everyone) that he gave his one and only Son (Jesus), that whoever (that’s you and I) believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (life now and even if we die).
What does this mean? It means that God sent Jesus, His only Son, to die for you and I, so that when it comes time for us to face our own death, we have an answer in the Saviour, Jesus.
It’s the greatest love story ever told. Everything that Jesus endured was all for you and it was all for me. Love was the reason, the motivation, and it’s the answer to it all.
If something is only as valuable as how much someone will pay for it, consider this: Jesus gave all He had for us.
Whatever the highest height or the lowest low we experience, our value as a human being is not found in what we do, our position in life, or the challenges we face, but it is found in His love for us.
Jesus died for you and I before we ever knew Him, before we called Him friend. He loved us in our sin, through our sin, and exchanged our sin for His life. Because we are created in His likeness, God made us with the capacity for love, both to give and receive it.
Why this couldn’t wait until tomorrow is because I want to encourage some of my readers who are going through some really difficult times. Some who are literally facing the reality of their own transition from this world to the next.
Today, I encourage you to find time this Easter to consider Jesus as your answer to death and its sting, its power, its fear. It’s only as we have dealt with the reality of our own frailty and impending death that we can freely live and live freely.
And for the record, 10 out of every 10 people in this world will die! The question is not “when will I die?” or “will I die?” but “what will be my new address when I die?” I have chosen life, heaven, and eternity in God’s presence. I have chosen Jesus to be my Saviour.
If you’re in Newcastle, Australia and you don’t have a church to call home, I invite you to join me tomorrow at Hillsong Newcastle, 10am, 669 Hunter Street.
For everyone else, why not find a church this weekend and consider the love that Jesus has and its relevance to you.
Here is a link to some services around the world: crossequalslove.com
Please share this with your friends, let’s together get the message of love out there this Easter!