Friday, January 27, 2012

Infected by Grief

God is familiar with grief and grieving. Probably more so than we could ever imagine.
Jesus knew what it was to grieve the loss of a loved one.
Every one of the apostles had to face the deaths of friends and family members.

Whether it's the passing into eternity of an elderly family member, a miscarriage or stillbirth, the loss of a friend or coworker to illness, the death of an acquaintance — even a stranger — to an accident, or something as seemingly trivial as the death of a pet, all of us come face to face with the spirit of grief in the course of life. 

Grief is neither to be feared, nor revered. 
It is never to be worshiped.

Grieving — mourning loss — is a natural, normal part of the process of life. What's not natural or normal is when the spirit of grief is permitted to infiltrate our spirits, souls, and bodies like some kind of toxic mold, and then color our reactions and responses to life from that point onward. 

So how do we respond properly, healthily, to tragedy, sadness, and loss without becoming infected by the spirit of grief?

Perhaps our clearest instructions are found in Isaiah 61, just past the words our Lord recited in Luke 4 to announce his arrival and assignment.

"The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
3 To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified."

Isa 61:1-3 NKJV
Knowing first that Jesus was familiar with grief and loss, it's easier to look at Isaiah's prophetic words and accept them.

In Christ, we have the oil of joy to soothe mourning, and the garment of praise to free us from the spirit of heaviness. The comfort of the Lord belongs to everyone who calls upon His name. 

There is, even as the author of Ecclesiastes wrote, "a time to mourn." What we must be aware of is the temptation to allow mourning, grief and heaviness to have more sway in our lives, thinking and emotions, than joy, praise, beauty, and righteousness. 

Are you consumed by death? By loss? By grief and mourning? Perhaps it's time to consider Jesus' response to death: He raised Lazarus, cast the mourners out of the house of the dead girl, and, perhaps most applicable to us, went off by Himself to spend time with His Father in prayer after learning of the death of his cousin, John the Baptist. 

The common denominator? Jesus never stayed in an attitude of mourning and grief for long.

He did not allow death to define life.
Yes, it's far easier said than done, but that's just one of the reasons He sent the Holy Spirit to us: to help us exchange that spirit of heaviness for the garment of praise. If you've been tormented, twisted, or tortured by grief and mourning, whether over a life lost, or over your own youth, or lost dreams, or whatever, may today be the day you begin to exchange the spirit of heaviness for the garment of praise.

About the Author: Niki writes fiction, blog posts, articles in the local newspaper, grocery lists, and Facebook status updates. She can be found at her own blog, In Truer Ink, in addition to posting here. She was a 2009 finalist in the Faith, Hope, and Love "Touched by Love" contest.


  1. Thank you, Niki, that was a wonderful post to read first thing in the morning.

  2. One thing I can add is that Grief does consume us for a time, where we lose everything else, and is probably proportional to the loss. I think of it as feeling sure you'll never laugh again--the verses really do reflect that.

    I hope anyone who is experiencing a debilitating grief finds competent biblical counseling. And healing. Because it's real and like any other feeling/emotion we have, the enemy would love to use it to make us ineffective.
    Thanks Niki.

    now... have a great weekend everyone!

  3. Oh. Niki.

    This could not have come at a better time. It's so very comforting to read this today. My heart has been so heavy for two precious little girls who became orphans just last Friday.

    Thank you for this, dear friend.

  4. Thank you, Laurie Alice, for stopping by!

  5. Deb, absolutely true. Not allowing ourselves to grieve, to go through the process, is as unhealthy as letting it take over. I think that's where the Holy Spirit (and some godly counsel) come it, to help us move through the valley, instead of camping out in it.

  6. Aw, Suzie, I know that's been heavy on your heart this week. Our dear friends, pastors of a sister church, lost their church secretary to cancer this week. She has kids that are the same age as mine, daughters, and I've been thinking of them, too. It's SO important that we do as Jesus did: take that burden and give it to the Father, for He is the only one equipped to carry it. ((HUGS))

  7. "Grieving — mourning loss — is a natural, normal part of the process of life. What's not natural or normal is when the spirit of grief is permitted to infiltrate our spirits, souls, and bodies like some kind of toxic mold"

    That is the perfect summation, Niki. My family has given me such great examples about grief that it's never been a big issue for me. Yes, we've had tragic losses, including my brother who died of SIDS and an uncle who was hit by a train. But we never let those things weight us down for the long term.

    I think the harder thing than physical death for me can be the death of a dream or a relationship. Simply because you don't have the same comfort that can come knowing you'll see someone later and that they're happy in heaven.

    Now if you lose someone who isn't a, I've never experienced that. I can't imagine.

  8. Hugs back at you, Niki. I'll be praying for the daughters, family and friends of the church secretary. {{{Niki}}}

  9. Dina, having healthy examples is such a blessing! And probably where good grief counseling would come into play for those who haven't had those examples.

    I agree with you about losing people who aren't believers. That's so hard to bear.

  10. Wow. What a truly lovely post.

    This is great: Grief is neither to be feared, nor revered.
    It is never to be worshiped.

    It's so true that some people make idols of their grief. (The hero in my first book did, for sure!) Yes, there's a time for mourning. We need it. But there's a time for joy, too. It's not WRONG to recover. Recovery doesn't diminish the love you had for whomever you're greiving.

  11. DeAnna, that is an extremely important point about it being OK to recover and move on. So many people are stricken with guilt if they start to feel better and it creates a place for the bad kind of grief and mourning to get in and swamp them.

  12. Niki, I used to think I understood grief. After all, I'd lost two grandparents and a grandparent-in-law during my late teens and early twenties. Then when my mother-in-law unexpectantly passed away two days before Thanksgiving, I realized I really hadn't known grief.

    Grief is that feeling of somethign isn't right. It's deep. It hurts sometimes to the point of wishing for death. So I understand how David could write a psalm about the ache in his bones.

    After we returned home from the funeral, I googled stages of grief. I got angry becuase I knew those stages didn't describe how I felt.

    Best advice I read was don't fight the tears. Seems like I spent December crying.

    Earlier this week my youngest asked me if our dog was going to die. I said someday. She wailed. Oh how she missed him. The dog and I gave her this tilted head, raised eyebrow, half-frown look. Umm, the dog wasn't dead yet. Not even sick.

    She then kindly informed me she was practicing for when he did die but she didn't want him to die so she cried more and I just let her. Then her tears dried and she said, "But he'll be my dog in heaven." I told her she'd probably have to come visit my house because I was pretty sure I would be his person as much in the new Heaven and new Earth as I am on this one. She was fine with that.

    There's not one right way to grieve.

    But your post excellently showed we don't have to go through grief alone. Jesus knows exactly how we feel. Thank you, Niki, for writing this.


  13. Niki, what a powerful post. It hit me between the eyes...

    So sorry to hear about the church secretary. I'll pray for her family. Suzie, I've been praying for your pastor's family. God is holding them in His arms.

  14. Gina, you're absolutely right. There is not one "right" way to grieve. I don't even think we can expect to grieve the same way or go through exactly the same process each time we encounter loss.
    One more reason it's so important to have that living connection with Jesus! Life doesn't come in cookie cutter format.

    Your daughter cracks me up. What a joy she must be for you!

  15. Thanks, Susie.
    I know they'll appreciate the prayers!

  16. Thanks for this excellent, well-thought-out post, Niki. I'll be relieved when all the tears are wiped away in this life, and we don't need to deal with grief any longer.


Share This Post

How Our Giveaways Work: The Official Rules

We, the ladies of Inkwell Inspirations, would love to give free stuff to everybody. Since we can't, we will often have a giveaway in conjunction with a specific post. Unless otherwise stated, one winner will be drawn from comments left on that post between the date it was published and the end of the giveaway as determined in the post. Entries must be accompanied by a valid email address. This address is used only to contact the commenter in the event that he/she is the winner, and will not be sold, distributed, or used in any other fashion. The odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. NO PURCHASE, PLEDGE, OR DONATION NECESSARY TO ENTER OR TO WIN. ALL FEDERAL, STATE, LOCAL AND MUNICIPAL LAWS AND REGULATIONS APPLY. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED.