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Faithful utterances

Grappling with grief

by PRIDE Newsdesk
Froswa’ Booker-Drew

The last few weeks have been painful. It’s difficult witnessing the amount of loss. Friends have lost parents, spouses, children, and colleagues. Reading the tributes and the expressions of love have been touching. The impact these individuals have had on others is immeasurable. Whether the impact was personal or professional, it was profound. They changed lives in congregations, campuses, and communities. Their legacies will live on well beyond their brief time on earth. Death isn’t easy. I find myself irritated when we tell those who are grieving not to cry as if crying is somehow a lack of faith.

No matter how strong a person’s faith is it hurts. We can become so holy that we are no earthly good by quoting scripture without demonstrating compassion. We forget that they are human. Whether we know the end is expected or sudden, it is difficult to grapple with losing someone that you love. Crying is natural. The pain is real, and grief is a process. Allow people to go through it. Recognize that everyone does not process and deal with grief in the same way. Instead of judging, it’s our job to love, be there and offer support in addition to our prayers.

In John 11, Lazarus was sick. His sisters, Mary and Martha of Bethany sent word to Jesus about his condition. Jesus knew Lazarus had died and was on his way back to Bethany. “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died,” John 11: 21. When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.

“Where have you laid him?” he asked. “Come and see, Lord,” they replied. Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?” John 11: 32-37.

There’s so much in this text that is applicable for our lives today:

  1. Jesus was aware of Lazarus condition. He knew before getting to Bethany of his death.
  2. God understands our pain and hurts with us when we go through life changing loss.
  3. Jesus is moved by our pain. God is not standing by unaware or untouched by our suffering.
  4. Despite their pain, Mary and Martha, trusted God’s power in their pain.
  5. There will always be those from the outside who have opinions about what should or did happen, and what we go through is our personal journey with Christ.

Lazarus had been dead for four days and I’m sure by that time, his sisters had given up hope. In our deepest, darkest hours if we call on Jesus, he shows up. Even when everything is hopeless, we are never alone in our loss. A friend whose father passed a few years after my father’s death asked how I managed my grief. I told her that it was a day-by-day process. Some days were better than others but without my faith in God, I would not have made it. I also knew that grief has a way of taking over and keeping us bound. If we are not careful, we can create living tombs that confine us from experiencing life to the fullest while we are here. I knew the best way to celebrate my father’s memory was to live a life that he could be proud of and one that glorifies God’s goodness.

Mary and Martha were not alone. There was a community offering support. If you are walking through a season of loss, know that you are not alone. If Jesus cried because of Lazarus’ death and witnessing the grief of his sisters, know that you should experience the range of feelings that come with loss of a loved one. Know that Jesus is with you throughout the process and that you can have hope in the midst of your pain (1 Thessalonians 4:13-14). You are never alone!

(Dr. Froswa’ Booker-Drew is the host of the Tapestry podcast and the author of three books for women. She is also the vice president of Community Affairs for the State Fair of Texas. To learn more, visit <drfroswa.com>.)

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