* Finding the freedom to grieve
When Jacob died at the age of 147, Joseph wept and mourned for months. When someone close to us dies, we need a long period of time to work through our grief. Crying and sharing our feelings with others helps us recover and go on with life. Allow yourself and others the freedom to grieve over the loss of a loved one, and give yourself time enough to complete your grieving process. (NLT)
Genesis 50:1-11 – Joseph threw himself on his father and wept over him and kissed him. Then Joseph told his morticians to embalm the body. The embalming process took forty days, and there was a period of national mourning for seventy days. When the period of mourning was over, Joseph approached Pharaoh’s advisers and asked them to speak to Pharaoh on his behalf. He told them, “Tell Pharaoh that my father made me swear an oath. He said to me. ‘I am about to die; take my body back to the land of Canaan, and bury me in our family’s burial cave.’ Now I need to go and bury my father. After his burial is complete, I will return without delay.”
Pharaoh agreed to Joseph’s request, “Go and bury your father, as you promised,” he said. So Joseph went, with a great number of Pharaoh’s counselors and advisers–all the senior officers of Egypt. Joseph also took his brothers and the entire household of Jacob. But they left their little children and flocks and herds in the land of Goshen. So a great number of chariots, cavalry, and people accompanied Joseph.
When they arrived at the threshing floor of Atad, near the Jordan River, they held a very great and solemn funeral, with a seven-day period of mourning for Joseph’s father. The local residents, the Canaanites, renamed the place Abel-miz-raim, for they said, “This is a place of very deep mourning for these Egyptians.”
* Rash vows brings grief
Jephthah’s rash vow brought him unspeakable grief. In the heat of emotion or personal turmoil it is easy to make foolish promises to God. These promises may sound very spiritual when we make them, but they may produce only guilt and frustration when we are forced to fulfill them. Making spiritual “deals” only brings disappointment. God does not want promises for the future, but obediance for today. (NLT)
Judges 11:34-35 – When Jephthah returned home to Mizpah, his daughter–his only child–ran out to meet him, playing on a tambourine and dancing for joy. When he saw her, he tore his clothes in anguish. “My daughter!” he cried out. “My heart is breaking! What a tragedy that you came out to greet me. For I have made a vow to the Lord and cannot take it back.”
* Don’t be ashamed to grieve
“They mourned and wept and fasted all day.” David and his men were visibly shaken over Saul’s death. Their actions showed their genuine sorrow over the loss of their king, their friend Jonathan, and the other soldiers of Israel who died that day. They were not ashamed to grieve. Today, some people consider expressing emotions to be a sign of weakness. Those who wish to appear strong try to hide their feelings. But expressing our grief can help us deal with our intense sorrow when a loved one dies. (NLT)
2 Samuel 1:11-12 – David and his men tore their clothes in sorrow when they heard the news. They mourned and wept and fasted all day for Saul and his son Jonathan, and for the Lord’s army and the nation of Israel, because so many had died that day.
* Job did not hide his overwhelming grief. He had not lost his faith in God; instead, his emotions showed that he was human and that he loved his family. God created our emotions, and it is not sinful or inappropriate to express them as Job did. If you have experienced a deep loss, a disappointment, or a heartbreak, admit your feelings to yourself and others, and grieve. (NLT)
Job 1:20-22 – Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground before God. He said, “I came naked from my mother’s womb, and I will be stripped of everything when I die. The Lord gave me everything I had, and the Lord has taken it away. Praise the name of the Lord!”
* Moving from grief to action
Nehemiah was deeply grieved about the condition of Jerusalem, but he didn’t just brood about it. After his initial grief, he prayed, pouring his heart out to God, and he looked for ways to improve the situation. Nehemiah put all his resources of knowledge, experience, and organization into determining what should be done. When tragic news comes to you, first pray. Then seek ways to move beyond grief to specific action that helps those who need it. (NLT)
Nehemiah 1:4 – When I heard this, I sat down and wept. In fact, for days I mourned, fasted, and prayed to the God of heaven.
* Grief can’t take away life’s real purpose
Job had been careful not to worship material possessions but to worship God alone. Here he was overwhelmed by calamities that mocked his caution, and he complained about trials that came despite his right living. All the principles by which he had lived were crumbling, and Job began to lose his perspective. Trials and grief, whether temporary or enduring, do not destroy the real purpose of life. Life is not given merely for happiness and personal fulfillment but for us to serve and honor God. The worth and meaning of life is not based on what we feel but on the one reality no one can take away–God’s love for us. Don’t assume that because God truly loves you, he will always prevent suffering. The opposite may be true. God’s love cannot be measured or limited by how great or how little we may suffer. Nothing can separate us from God’s love. (NLT)
Job 3:23-26 – Why is life given to those with no future, those destined by God to live in distress? I cannot eat for sighing; my groans pour out like water. What I always feared has happened to me. What I dreaded has come to be. I have no peace, no quietness. I have no rest; instead, only trouble comes.”
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