Summary: Guidance for coping with times of grief.
COPING WITH GRIEF
1999 by Mark Beaird
Text: 2 Samuel 12:16-23
Few stories of someone’s grief are as touching as that of Horatio C. Spafford, who lived from 1828-1888.
Spafford had known peaceful and happy days as a successful attorney in Chicago. He was the father of four daughters, an active member of the Presbyte-rian Church, and a loyal friend and supporter of D. L. Moody and other evan-gelical leaders of his day. Then, a series of calamities began, starting with the great Chicago fire of 1871 which wiped out the family’s extensive real estate investments. When Mr. Moody and his music associate, Ira Sankey, left for Great Britain for an evangelistic campaign, Spafford decided to lift the spirits of his family by taking them on a vacation to Europe. He also planned to assist in the Moody-Sankey meetings there.
In November, 1873, Spafford was detained by urgent business, but he sent his wife and four daughters as scheduled on the S.S. Ville du Harve, planning to join them soon. Halfway across the Atlantic, the ship was struck by an English vessel and sank in 12 minutes. All four of the Spafford daughters--Tanetta, Maggie, Annie and Bessie--were among the 226 who drowned. Mrs. Spafford was among the few who were miraculously saved.
Horatio Spafford stood hour after hour on the deck of the ship carrying him to rejoin his sorrowing wife in Cardiff, Wales. When the ship passed the approximate place where his precious daughters had drowned, Spafford received sustaining comfort from God that enabled him to write, "When sorrows like sea billows roll... It is well with my soul." What a picture of our hope!
When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll-Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, It is well with my soul.
Tho Satan should buffet, tho trials should come, let this blest assurance control, that Christ hath regarded my helpless estate and shed His own blood for my soul.
And, Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight, the clouds be rolled back as a scroll: The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend, "Even so"-it is well with my soul.
Chorus: It is well with my soul, it is well, it is well with my soul.
Ask yourself if you can truthfully say, "It is well with my soul," no matter what the circumstances may be that surround you.
Philip P. Bliss, 1838-1876 (Osbeck, 202)
As we live, it becomes more and more evident that tragedy and heartache are no respector of persons. It comes to us all. But all may not deal with grief in the same way. Why is it that some let grief destroy them and others triumph over it?
As we consider the grief of David concerning the loss of his infant son we can draw several conclusions about how to deal with our grief.
I. DON’T HOLD GRIEF IN (vv. 16-18).
“David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and went into his house and spent the nights lying on the ground. The elders of his household stood beside him to get him up from the ground, but he refused, and he would not eat any food with them. On the seventh day the child died. David’s servants were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they thought, "While the child was still living, we spoke to David but he would not listen to us. How can we tell him the child is dead? He may do something desperate.”
A. Don’t expect everyone to understand your grief—it is unique to
Author Edgar Jackson poignantly described grief when he wrote: “Grief is a young widow trying to raise her three children, alone. Grief is the man so filled with shocked uncertainty and confusion that he strikes out at the nearest person. Grief is a mother walking daily to a nearby cemetery to stand quietly and alone a few moments before going about the task of the day. She knows that a part of her is in the cemetery, just as a part of her is in her daily work. Grief is a silent, knife like terror and sadness that comes a hundred times a day, when you start to speak to someone who is no longer there. Grief is the emptiness that comes when you eat alone after eating with another for many years. Grief is teaching yourself to go to bed without saying goodnight to the one who has died. Grief is the helpless wishing that things were different when you know they are not and never will be again. Grief is a whole cluster of adjustments, apprehensions, and uncertainties that strike life in its forward progress and make it difficult to redirect the energies of life. (Leadership, Vol. 5, no.1)