Grow your Soul Through Grief and Loss
THE MAIN POINT
Loss is a place where powerful transformation can happen if we have the courage to participate fully in the process. We can often interpret loss and grief as alien invasions and interruptions to our “normal” lives. True Emotionally Healthy Spiritual recognizes that grief and loss ARE realities of life, and can be a place where we can experience new possibilities of depth in our relationship with God.
John 16:33, Hebrews 5:7-8, Psalm 34:18
When we face pain, depression, loneliness, grief, and loss, we need good theology about our faith to help us ask the question, “God where are you?”
Have you ever heard the line, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it”? The tragedy is that so often we have taken that bit of advice and applied it to our relationship with God. We end up believing that if we have nothing nice to say to God, nothing praise-worthy then we shouldn’t say anything to him. The Bible speaks a lot about grief and loss and doesn’t simply brush over it or ignore it. Jesus promises two things: 1. We will have trouble. 2. We can have peace in Jesus because he has overcome trouble.
When we have emotionally unhealthy spirituality we can believe God is absent from our trouble, and we can end up being stoic towards pain as if it doesn’t affect us or we can completely break down feeling like there is no way out. However, God is not offended by your grief, questions, or doubts. God wants our honesty. His shoulders are big enough to carry our burdens.
“The difference between a spiritually healthy person and someone who is not healthy is the ability to recognize grief, sorrow, and sadness and lift it up to God, rather than suppressing it.” Rich Villodas
Jesus exampled this in his life; when he grieved, he prayed. When he was in pain, he prayed. When he had trouble, he prayed. When we pray to God, we should pray for our grief, our sadness and our anxiety. Jesus promises that regardless of our circumstances, we can experience peace as we surrender it to him. We have limits emotionally, physically, spiritually…. but we have a God who has no limits, who is close to those who hurt, and wants to help.
“Prayer is not about being nice before God, it’s about being honest before God.” Eugene Peterson.
As you prepare the core of the message using personal stories and questions keep in mind these points:
- Grief and loss can show themselves in many ways: denial, minimizing the severity, blaming others, rationalizing pain, over-spiritualizing, blaming yourself, distracting, becoming hostile, numbing(through unhealthy use of substances).
- Experiencing loss makes us confront our humanity and our limits. We quickly realize we are not in control of our lives; God is. We are simply creatures, not the creator.
- The Biblical response to grief and loss is to deal honestly and prayerfully with it, including all the emotions that come with it. Why? Losses are indispensable if we are going to change and grow into the people God has called us to be.
- Following Jesus means receiving life to the full, which includes grief and loss. We often find it easier following Jesus into the abundant life of joy and resurrection, yet are less enthusiastic about following to the garden of Gethsemane (where he experiences pain and rejection).
- We have hope because of Jesus that one-day grief and loss will seize to exist (Rev 1:24), but until then, Jesus invites us to remain in him and trust him through the hard moments of life, as it’s in these hard moments that we can experience new possibilities of depth in our relationship with God.
As you prepare the application, challenge and/or encouragement, keep in mind these points:
- How can your listener recognize they are experiencing grief or loss? (The Core; point 1)
- How can one pray in this season of life? (Think practically)
- What might it mean for your listener to mature by entering painful seasons of life than avoiding them?