Summary: When (not if) you go through grief, if you have Jesus Christ at the center of your life, you can make it through.
Every Tuesday in September, and there are five of them, I will be facilitating a group entitled "Living After Loss." As I have thought about you this past week,
I realized there’s one word that applies, or will apply, to all of us, and that word is grief. How many unmentioned needs are in the hearts of people, and how many people are grieving or have grieved? Certainly, all of us will be hit hard by life. There will be a time for everyone of us to grieve and hurt.
People live for years with some other person, the most significant other person in their life. They love each other. They think alike. They work together. They plan together. Their lives are fused into one. Then one of them dies, and there is that terrible presence of an absence. The hardest thing to bear is the presence of an absence, and grief is the mechanism that God has given us to deal with it.
People live together, someone to whom you’ve pledged your life and love, and suddenly, they say, "I’m out of here. I’m gone." Divorce crumbles a home, and there’s grief. It’s a death that keeps on dying, and there’s hurt and pain.
Someone gives their life to a company, and one day, it’s announced that they have assassinated in a process called "down-sizing."
Someone gives their life to starting a business. They put everything into it.
It meant a great deal to them, and the business fails. There’s grief and loss.
Young people face grief and loss. A mother or dad leaves or dies, and there’s such grief and hurt. There’s someone at school they love very much. Someone they cared a great deal for dumps them and says, "I don’t want you in my life anymore," and it hurts. There’s grief and pain.
We could make this list go on and on, but there is a word from God about this for His people. Our text in I Thessalonians 4:13 says, "But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope." This tells us that there are different ways of grieving. You don’t have to grieve as people who have no hope. So there is a hope that can lead us through our grieving. There is a bad way to grieve and a good way to grieve, and it makes a difference. It’s very important how we grieve when life tumbles in on us.
Do you remember the name Danny Moore? Danny Moore was a relief pitcher. He lost the game that would have gotten his team into the World Series, and he couldn’t handle the grief after that failure. He took his life and the life of his wife because he lost a baseball game.
On the other hand, there was Dave Dravecky who did the very same thing about the very same time. He pitched and lost a game that lost his team the chance to go to the World Series. Dave Dravecky lost more than that. He found the reason he couldn’t throw hard that day was because he had a tumor in his arm. Eventually, they had to take his arm, and now they’ve taken his shoulder. Yet, Dave Dravecky, having lost that game and his career, has gone on to enthusiastically share his testimony of faith and hope all over this nation.
Now what’s the difference?
There is a way to grieve that is like this society, and there is a way to grieve that God recommends.
The Way The World Says To Grieve
I guess the best way to understand the way our society faces grief is portrayed in a story about a boy and let’s call him Johnny. When he was five years old, his dog died. That dog was very important to Johnny. He slept at the foot of his bed. He was with him all day long. They were best buddies, and now the dog was dead. Johnny’s heart was broken.
His life had tumbled in, and his dad said to him, "Don’t feel bad, son. We’ll get you another dog on Saturday." There you have it. Two ways our society deals with grief: Don’t feel bad. Bury your feelings and replace your loss. "We’ll get you another dog on Saturday."
After awhile, Johnny was a freshman in high school and fell head over heels in love with a girl. He had never been happier in his life, and then suddenly, she dumped him. She said, "I want you out of my life." He was hurting and grieving, and his mother gave him some "wonderful" advice. She said, "Johnny, don’t feel bad. There are other fish in the sea."