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"Hope Beyond Grief"


"But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope."

1 Thessalonians 4:13

I woke up this morning to the tragic news there was a mass shooting in Thousand Oaks at a local bar that was frequented by university students from two near by schools. With multiple fatalities an entire community is in shock today and will soon begin the long process of dealing with grief and loss. My heart goes out to everyone involved.

As I laid in bed praying I was thinking about last night as I started a new book in our journey through the bible on Wednesday nights at the church I pastor. We are studying the book of Job and in just one night we discovered together that we all experience hurt, that each of us will suffer pain and loss in this life, we just all do it different ways, and in varying degrees. Some people handle suffering better than others. In truth, some people's methods of dealing with pain and grief are just down right destructive. This morning I wanted to share with you what I probably won't have time to share in depth during our weekly study but something that I have found very helpful through the years as I have counseled with countless people experiencing pain and sorrow, loss and the ensuing grief.

I'll contrast for you here how the world has taught us to grieve and as well I'll give you some means of healing God's way. Six ways we often grieve wrong and six ways we can grieve properly that leads us to healing and wholeness. If you are going through a season of pain and sorrow I want to personally invite you to join us on Wednesday nights at 6:30 p.m. at Calvary Chapel Bakersfield or follow us on line live at as we study through the book of Job and deal with the universal question, "why do bad things happen to good people?" Below are the two contrasting methods to dealing with grief. My prayer today is that they help you like they have helped me. Feel free to pass them along to someone you know who is hurting today.

1. The world teaches us to, "Bury Your Feelings". Often times the first thing someone says to us when they see us crying is, "Oh, please don't cry" or "You shouldn't be crying". As children you might have had a parent say to you, "Stop your crying! I'll give you something to cry about" if they thought your tears were senseless.

1. God says to us, "Feel your Feelings". Were were created in the image of God, spirit, soul and body with God given emotions. If God didn't desire that we cry when touched deeply Jesus would not have cried Himself at the tomb of Lazarus or over the nation of Israel at their rejection of Him as their promised Messiah, or in the Garden of Gethsemane. Tears are the natural expression of the tender heart.

2. The world teaches us to, "Replace Your losses". (Run from your pain). An example might be, a child has a pet die and starts to cry and the parents say, "don't cry honey, we'll get you a new puppy". This reinforces the belief we should not cry but as quickly as possible move on and replace our loss.

2. God says, "Review the Loss". Mourning is a healthy aspect of living and God even set aside specific allotments of time under Jewish law so the people had ample time to mourn their loss. To heal properly we need to feel the effects of our loss, to appreciate fully what we had. One of the best ways to accomplish this is to talk about the loss with others and to write about it reflectively, and pray about it, to slow down the pace of your life for a season of time and resist the unhealthy urge to speed up and stay busy. None of us can out run the pain forever. Sooner or later we'll have to stop. The best time is now not then.

3. The world says, "Grieve Alone". When we need people the most we tend to withdrawal from them thinking its best to not burden others with our pain. We might have even been told when we wanted to comfort someone we love when they were hurting, "Don't bother them now, they need to be alone" not realizing that only reinforces the belief that when we grieve we should do it alone.

3. God says, Grieve in Community. (After Jesus death the disciples gathered together in an upper room). One of the blessings of being a family is being there for one another during times of loss so that the family members can grieve together. All throughout the bible God calls us to share our burdens with others, not to carry them alone. "A friend loves at all times but a brother is born for adversity". There is nothing like having family and friends there for you when you hurt. Don't grieve alone. Reach up, reach out!

4. The world says, "Time Heals All Wounds". After bypassing the first three steps here the world says to us, "just give it time, you'll get over it" but for many the pain never stops, the pain never ceases and like a deep infection it only gets worse with time. The truth is, time does not heal all wounds.

4. God says, "Only the Holy Spirit Can Truly Heal". Jesus on the night before He went to the Cross to die told the disciple sot not let their heart be troubled. He could say that because Jesus would provide for them and us The Holy Spirit, to be with us, along side us and in us. Jesus said He would send us the Holy Spirit who is called, "The Comforter". Jesus knows we need comfort to heal and God has provided that for us in a person. Pray and ask God to give you the Holy Spirit and let Him come to you and bring you what only God can.

5. The world says, "Live with Regret". The world says to us that the past is the past and there is nothing you can do about it to change it. Just live with it or just forget it if you can.

5. God says, "Share Your Regrets", express them, to God and to others. The first thing Jesus calls His disciples to do is repent. Because God knows our heart, when we repent, when we are truly sorry for the past and the regrets each of us feels its as if God says to us, "I know your heart, I know that if you could go back and fix or change the situation you would, but you can't. But what you can do is move ahead. I died for you on Calvary's Cross, I took your sin and its shame so that you could be free. You are free today because forgiveness is found in Me. It's mine to give and I give it to you, go now and sin no more". God knows if we could go back, turn back the hands of time as it were we would change the situation. Its why pouring our heart out to God is best. He knows us, He knows our heart and His peace and comfort are like no other!

Share your regrets with others too. Find someone who will listen to you and if need be consider writing out your regrets then read them as if you were reading them to the person with whom you have the regret. Don't carry the regrets, get them off your chest, out of your heart and experience God's amazing healing grace. No matter what might have happened to us, we can make peace on our side of the equation. Romans 12:18 puts it like this, "If it is possible, as much as it depends on you, be at peace with all men." We can't change our past but we can change our thoughts and feelings about it.

6. The world says, "Never Trust Again". We have all heard the expression, "Do it to me once shame on you, do it to me twice, shame on me!" The problem with building our walls so no one can get to us and hurt us is, once I complete the wall to protect me from others, I am stuck, I can't get out. Remember loved one, isolation is hell.

6. God says, "I will never leave you nor forsake you". Even if the world walks away from you God won't. I love the saying, "I didn't know Jesus was all I needed until Jesus was all I had." Its true, friend, when you hurt and you feel abandoned and alone, as if no one cares and no one is there. Remember, Jesus is there for you. The bible again and again reminds us, "Those who trust in the Lord will not be disappointed." God is there for you and not just when you hurt but He is for sure there when you do. You can trust Him.

The only sure thing in life is God and when we make Him the center of our lives we can live without the fear of being alone and for good reason. God cannot die, He cannot break, He doesn't wear out, move away, change His mind about us. God is not vulnerable! He is the same yesterday, today and forever! And the best part is He is standing at the door of your heart today knocking, waiting for you to open up your heart and let Him in. Don't let your pain push God away. Draw close to God as He has promised He will draw close to you!

"Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God; For I shall yet praise Him, The help of my countenance and my God."

Psalms 43:5


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