Summary: Discussion of how to pray our own pain followed by practical instruction on how to minister to others who are experiencing loss and pain.
Processing Our Pain
We begin the message this morning with a clip from the movie “Steel Magnolias”. In this scene M’Lynn Eatonton (played by Sally Fields) is standing at her daughter’s grave as the funeral has come to an end. Watch as she processes her grief and her friends try to help her through the pain.
Begin (01:38:28) to (01:46:03)
The Bible has a lot to say about our experiences with grief. Jacob grieved over the death of Rachael and later the false report of Joseph’s death. David grieved over the death of his dear friend Jonathan. Later we see him in pain over the loss of some of his children. The rebellion and death of Absalom was especially painful for David. In 2 Sam 19:4 he has his face covered and is wailing loudly, "O my son Absalom! O Absalom, my son, my son!" Those were real human experiences the Bible is telling us about. Much of the book of Job deals with Job’s loss and how he processed the pain of that loss.
Are you experiencing pain in this season of your life? No doubt there are some who are.
It’s a very real part of life. The rain falls upon the just and the unjust. One day our salvation will be complete and there will be no sorrow and no tears in heaven. But Romans 8 reminds us that until that day we groan along with all of creation and experience the effects of the Fall. Bum Phillips, former coach of the Houston Oilers and Tennessee Titans once made the comment, “There are two types of coaches in the NFL: them that have been fired, and them that are goanna be fired.” If you are not going through any loss or pain it would still be a good idea to be equipped for the possibility.
Death is not the only kind of loss people experience. A divorce represents a significant loss in a person’s life. If there are children the loss extends to them as well. It may be a loss of a career, the loss of personal savings, the loss of health, or any number of other things. Jeremiah grieved over the captivity of Jerusalem. Jesus wept over Jerusalem’s loss of opportunity when they rejected Him as their Messiah.
There is much is Scripture about joy and celebration. In fact, we plan to deal with that next week. But pain and sorrow is also a reality of life and denying that reality is a mighty poor way to deal with it. Ecclesiastes 3 tells us that there is a time for every thing. Eccl 3:4 “a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance”. This morning we will talk about how to process our pain in a healthy way as believers.
1st Be real—be honest with yourself and with God about how you feel. I have discovered something very delightful about God: He can handle our humanity. Did you see that outburst of anger by Sally Fields in our movie clip? God doesn’t get nervous when that kind of thing happens. People may get uncomfortable—but God—He’s seen it before.
It may sound like I’m stating the obvious. But there is this weird, religious thing that can slip in that subtly demands that people be so proper that they (not only lose touch with the reality of the world around them) but they also lose touch with their own feelings. There is nothing healthy or victorious about that. When God made you and me He did not manufacture us with plastic. He made us out of the dust of the earth. He created us flesh and blood with a broad range of emotional capacity. Even the secular world recognizes that denial is not the way to deal with our pain.
Now hold this thought about being honest and real and let me suggest something else.
2. Go to God with your pain.
I want to use Psalm 13 as an example of how that is done. Look with me at Ps 13:1-2. “How long, O LORD? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? 2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and every day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?” I hope when you read passages like that you read them with a passion. I can not image David yawning sleepily as he prays (Read passage in very nonchalant way). David is in distress and he is upset with God for not intervening in his behalf. When you study the whole Psalm one thing is evident. David’s expression of what he was feeling did not get him out of favor with God. In fact, I see something wonderful happening as David offers up an honest conversation with God. He is able to process his feelings in such a way that all this frustration turns toward effectual petition. In the next two verses he begins to ask God for help. Verses 3-4 “Look on me and answer, O LORD my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death; 4 my enemy will say, "I have overcome him," and my foes will rejoice when I fall.”