An Article from Pastor Paul Boutan
2020 was an exceptionally difficult year, it was the year of quarantine, lockdowns and restrictions. But then 2021 came and for many of you it has been even worse, a year of death. In the 24 years that I have been pastoring at Calvary Brighton we have never experienced the number of deaths that we’ve have had in our church family over a 5-month period. There have been at least 10 families that have had a death impact their lives. People have lost husbands, fathers, mothers, uncles, nieces, brothers, children, and friends. There are a lot of hurting families in our church. This has prompted me to write about grieving.
When grieving it is natural to feel angry. Angry about loss of a sweet relationship or angry about a relationship that will never happen. Angry about a young life lost or perhaps at God for not answering our prayer for healing. It is okay to be angry. Even Jesus was angry when he was at Lazarus’s grave. But make sure that your anger is directed toward the right thing. Be angry at death. In John 11:33 it says that “When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled.” The word “deeply moved” here is the Greek enebrimēsato and can be translated “moved with anger” the New Living Translation renders it, “a deep anger welled up within him.” Who was Jesus angry at? Jesus was angry at death. He was not angry at Mary and Martha, He was angry at the pain and destruction that death causes His children.
Biblically, death is God’s enemy. 1 Corinthians 15:26 says “the last enemy that will be destroyed is death.” That verse is telling us that in the end times part of God’s judgment is that He will judge death itself. Death feels unnatural and very painful because we were not created to die. We were initially created to live forever. Death entered into the world back in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve sinned. Romans 5:12 tells us that “through one man (Adam) death and sin entered the world.” Therefore, when a loved one is taken from us by death, we very much feel like we’ve been assaulted by an enemy. We have. God’s enemy, the last enemy has invaded our borders and attacked us. Likewise, when you are deeply moved by anger when someone you love has been taken from you, follow Jesus’ example and direct your anger towards God’s enemy death. The pain of death is very real. Remember that Jesus wept over the grief, hurt and destruction surrounding Lazarus’s death. But He also knew that his mission was to conquer sin and death through His death on the cross. Realize that death will have its day in court. Justice will be served to death when it is thrown into the lake of fire. In Revelation 20:14a it says, “Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire.” Our Heavenly Father will make sure that death gets its due for all the pain and destruction that it has caused. One day there will be no more death. In Revelation 21:4 we are promised that “He will wipe every tear form their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
All this Bible knowledge is great, but what do you do when you can hardly function because you are in so much pain? I would suggest, just do the next thing. Elisabeth Elliott used this line form a poem to help her function through her grief and to find daily motivation when faced with having to move forward after the death of her husband on the mission field by the very people they were hoping to reach.
“Do it immediately; do it with prayer;
do it reliantly, casting all care;
Do it with reverence, tracing Christ’s hand
Who placed it before you with earnest command,
Stayed with Omnipotence, safe beneath His wind,
Leave all resultings. DO THE NEXT THING.
So, when you are overwhelmed and can’t think or function, just try and do the next thing. The next thing might be to get dressed for work. It might be to buy food for your family to eat. It might be to go to a movie with your family. You don’t have to figure everything out right now, just do the next thing. Don’t feel guilty doing the next thing. It is an important part of the grieving process and moving forward. Moving forward does not mean that you will no longer feel any pain, but it won’t always be so debilitating.
But while you are grieving, don’t isolate. You make yourself vulnerable to the devil’s attacks. Remember that 1 Peter 5:8 it says, “Be alert and sober minded. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone devour.” In the wild, lions typically attack the one who strayed and isolated themselves from the herd. When you pull away from fellowship with other believers you can inadvertently make things worse for yourself. The devil can start talking to you cause you to question or doubt God’s goodness. Hebrews 10:24-25 exhorts us to “be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, not staying away from our worship meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.”
If you find yourself grieving in 2021, take heart knowing that God’s heart grieves with you and He’s just as hurt and angry at death as you are. But don’t let death get the victory over you by either paralyzing you or isolating you. Do the next thing and get back to the routine of life. Likewise, stay in fellowship with God’s people. The church is not a museum filled with perfect lives on display. Rather, it’s a hospital full of hurting people who are just like you. You need them, and they need you.
It’s okay to need help and support during this time. It’s okay to meet with a counselor. I highly recommend joining a grief support group that meets regularly at several churches in the area is called GRIEFSHARE.
When you are ready, look into GriefShare and see when there is an upcoming class near you. https://www.griefshare.org
There are also other brothers in Christ that have walked through deep grief and might be able to encourage you:
Ed Taylor from Calvary Aurora just wrote a book called “God’s Help for the Troubled Heart”
Greg Laurie from Harvest wrote a book after the loss of his son called “Hope for Hurting Hearts”