AUDIO How to Process Grief

by SteveT2018 | May 31, 2018

This sermon explores the topic of Grief. What is it? What does the Bible say about it? How can we deal with it? The story of Job gives us some clues about how to sit with someone in grief and how not to sit with someone in grief.

Sermon Manuscript

Lona’s scream pierced my soul.

We knew all day that something was not right. No one had heard from her Dad that day. He was on location in Sacramento, CA running another construction project. His twin brother called him every day to check in. This day there was no answer. Uncle Rowlyn called all the sisters to see if they had heard from him. They had not.

Then the call came.

Ralyn simply didn’t wake up that day. The hotel manager entered into his room to find him lying peacefully in his bed. We spent the next two weeks in a swirling fog of travel arrangements, funeral home consultations, family reunions, service planning, and the beginning of a long journey with grief.

It has been twelve years, but it seems like yesterday.

We come to the fourth of our five topics in the Overcome series this week: Grief.

So…Happy Mother’s Day!

I have to confess that I’ve been whining a little bit, and a little bit stressed out this week. How do you preach on Grief on Mother’s Day? The truth is that while mother’s day is a joyous time for many people, others experience grief over the loss of a mother, the loss of a child, or the loss of ever being able to have a child. Wherever you are today, I hope you will find comfort in these words.

I want to make three moves today:

  1. What is Grief?
  2. What Does the Bible Say about Grief?
  3. What Can We Do About it?

What is Grief?

We all experience it. Grief happens after any type of loss.

It could be a death,

a loss of job,

a move,

a life-transition.

Any time you lose something that you once held dear, you will experience grief.

It is essential to understand that we do not move along the stages in a linear direction or step by step. A person tends to move into stages in a random order and may sometimes even return back to a previous stage after a certain point in time. Each stage can last for a different time period, and it is possible for a person to get stuck in a particular stage and not move on from there. The following are brief descriptions of each of the 5 stages of grief:

Denial: The Stage of shock or denial is usually the first stage in the Kubler-Ross Model and is mostly short-lived. This is a phase during which one puts on a temporary defense mechanism and takes time to process certain disturbing news or reality. One may not want to believe what is happening and that it is happening to him/her. It can bring about a dip in productivity and the ability to think and act. After the initial shock subsides, one may experience denial and may remain focused on the past. Some people tend to remain in the state of denial for a long time and may lose touch with reality.

Anger: When the realization finally hits, and one understands the gravity of the situation, he/she may become angry and may look for someone to blame. Anger can be manifested or expressed in many ways. While some take out the anger on themselves, others may direct it towards others around them. While some may be angry at life in general, others may blame the economy. One always tends to remain irritable, frustrated and short tempered during this stage.

Bargaining: When the stage of anger passes away, one may start thinking about ways to postpone the inevitable and try to find out the best thing left in the situation. Those who are not faced by death but by another trauma may try to negotiate in the situation and come to a point of compromise. Bargaining may help to come to a sustainable solution and might bring some relief to those who are moving close to what they wish to avoid altogether. The search for a different outcome or a less traumatic one may remain on during this stage.

Depression: Depression is a stage in which the person tends to feel sadness, fear, regret, guilt and other negative emotions. He/she may have completely given up by now and may now reach a dead end from where the road only seems dark. One may display signs or indifference, reclusiveness, pushing others away and zero excitement towards anything in life. This may seem like a lowest point in life with no way ahead. Some common signs of depression include sadness, low energy, feeling demotivated, losing trust in god, etc.

Acceptance: When people realize that fighting the change that is coming into their life is not going to make the grief go away, they resign to the situation and accept it completely. The resigned attitude may not be a happy space but is one in which the person may stop resisting change and move ahead with it.

While some people totally resign and go into a deep state of low energy, others may try to make the most of the time left on their hand and explore new opportunities. One has come to a point of peace and is prepared to take one whatever has to follow next.1

So, what does the Bible say?

We chose to read a passage from the Epic Hebrew Poem of Job today. This passage really represents the whole book.

Job is a man who lost everything dear to him in one day. It is safe to say that he is grieving.

He is surrounded by his three friends: Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar.

We can learn two things from these guys.

First, what to do when someone is grieving, and then what NOT to do when someone is grieving.

Here’s what Job’s friends did right. They sat shiva. That is a Jewish Practice of sitting with a grieving person for seven days without saying anything.

That is the best thing we can do is to say nothing. Just simply be present.

Job’s friends got that part right, but then they opened their mouths. The next thrity chapters of Job is his friends trying to convince Job that his suffering is a the consequence of his sin.

Here’s a little pastoral advice…that’s not a good way to treat someone who is grieving.

So, how should we speak to people who are suffering?

I came across this article from the Sun Times a couple years ago, and it is really helpful.

The article says:

Draw a circle. This is the center ring. In it, put the name of the person at the center of the current trauma. Now draw a larger circle around the first one. Repeat the process as many times as you need to. In each larger ring put the next closest people. Parents and children before more distant relatives. Intimate friends in smaller rings, less intimate friends in larger ones. When you are done you have a Kvetching Order. (kvetching means to complain)

Here are the rules. The person in the center ring can say anything she wants to anyone, anywhere. She can kvetch and complain and whine and moan and curse the heavens and say, “Life is unfair” and “Why me?” That’s the one payoff for being in the center ring.

Everyone else can say those things too, but only to people in larger rings.

When you are talking to a person in a ring smaller than yours, someone closer to the center of the crisis, the goal is to help. Listening is often more helpful than talking. But if you’re going to open your mouth, ask yourself if what you are about to say is likely to provide comfort and support. If it isn’t, don’t say it. Don’t, for example, give advice. People who are suffering from trauma don’t need advice. They need comfort and support. So say, “I’m sorry” or “This must really be hard for you” or “Can I bring you a pot roast?” Don’t say, “You should hear what happened to me” or “Here’s what I would do if I were you.” And don’t say, “This is really bringing me down.”

If you want to scream or cry or complain, if you want to tell someone how shocked you are or how icky you feel, or whine about how it reminds you of all the terrible things that have happened to you lately, that’s fine. It’s a perfectly normal response. Just do it to someone in a bigger ring.

Comfort IN, dump OUT.2

That is good advice.

Finally, if you are experiencing grief over a loss in your life right now, hear this. It’s OK to grieve. Know that you are loved by God and that God is with you in your pain and loss and will walk with you every step of the way.

Please visit our website to find resources and support groups. Click on Connect, then find the support groups. You can see that there is contact information for Grief support and mental health in general.

How to Process Grief | A Sermon from the Overcome Series

The Greatest Mystery

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.  Colossians 1:15

Before I came to faith in Jesus, I’d heard the gospel preached but wrestled with His identity. How could He offer forgiveness for my sins when the Bible says only God can forgive sins? I discovered I wasn’t alone in my struggles after reading J. I. Packer’s Knowing God. Packer suggests that for many unbelievers the “really staggering Christian claim is that Jesus of Nazareth was God made man . . . as truly and fully divine as He was human.” Yet this is the truth that makes salvation possible.

When the apostle Paul refers to Christ as “the image of the invisible God,” he’s saying Jesus is completely and perfectly God—Creator and Sustainer of all things in heaven and earth‒but also fully human (Colossians 1:15–17). Because of this truth, we can be confident that through Christ’s death and resurrection, He’s not only carried the consequences for our sins but has also redeemed human nature, so that we—and all of creation—can be reconciled to God (vv. 20–22).

In an amazing, initiating act of love, God the Father reveals Himself in and through Scripture by the power of God the Holy Spirit and through the life of God the Son. Those who believe in Jesus are saved because He is Emmanuel—God with us. Hallelujah!

By: Xochitl Dixon

Reflect & Pray

When have you wrestled with your understanding of Jesus? What was the result?

Loving God, thank You for revealing Yourself and reconciling us through Jesus.

The Riches of Grace

Ephesians 1:3-8

Scripture says that Jesus chose to become poor—leaving heaven and everything that belonged to Him as God’s Son—so we might become rich (2 Corinthians 8:9). But what does this mean for believers? Ephesians 1:3-8 describes those riches by saying we are …

• Chosen by God. Since we belong to the Lord, life has purpose, and we are eternally secure.

• Liberated. We were slaves to sin and unable to free ourselves, but Jesus broke the power of the flesh so that we might be able to obey God.

• Redeemed. Jesus’ death satisfied divine justice because His perfect life met every requirement (Deut. 17:1; Rom. 6:23). When we decide to trust Him, God considers our sin debt paid in full.

• United With Him. At salvation, we become God’s adopted children.

• Citizens of Heaven. We receive citizenship in God’s kingdom and an inheritance that will never perish (1 Peter 1:4).

Many of us don’t realize we’re rich, because we think in terms of bank accounts and material possessions. But these things have no eternal value. Our real wealth is found in the spiritual blessings we’ve been given through Christ.

Indwelling of Christ

“To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (Colossians 1:27)

The fact that Jesus Christ is actually in each believer is both a great mystery and rich in glory. In fact, it is our very hope and assurance of glory in the age to come.

How Christ may be both seated at “the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Hebrews 1:3) and yet living in us is surely a mystery, yet it is fully true. He Himself told His disciples: “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him. . . . Abide in me, and I in you. . . . He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 14:23; 15:4-5).

The apostle Paul also confirmed this great truth: “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me” (Galatians 2:20). One of his prayers for the Ephesians was “that Christ [might] dwell in [their] hearts by faith” (Ephesians 3:17).

The mystery as to how this can be is resolved in yet another mystery—that of the triunity of the Godhead. Christ, the Second Person, is present in His people through the Holy Spirit, the Third Person. Christ said: “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter. . . . Even the Spirit of truth; . . . for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you” (John 14:16-17).

In fact, as our text says, His indwelling presence is our very hope of glory, for “if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Romans 8:9).

Thus, where we go, He goes; whatever we say, He hears; even what we think, He knows. Christ, by the Holy Spirit, is our ever-present comforter and guide and counselor. This is, indeed, a glorious mystery! HMM

People Really Are What They Think About

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.

—Proverbs 4:23

 

Every person is really what he or she secretly admires. If I can learn what you admire, I will know what you are, for people are what they think about when they are free to think about what they will.

Now, there are times when we are forced to think about things that we do not care to think about at all. All of us have to think about income taxes, but income taxes are not what we want to think about. The law makes us think about them every April. You may find me humped over Form 1040, just like everyone else, but that is not the real me. It is really the man with the tall hat and the spangled stars in Washington who says, “You can’t let it go any longer!” I assure you it is not consentingly done! But if you can find what I think about when I am free to think about whatever I will, you will find the real me. That is true of every one of us.

Your baptism and your confirmation and your name on the church roll and the big Bible you carry—these are not the things that are important to God. You can train a chimpanzee to carry a Bible. Every one of us is the sum of what we secretly admire, what we think about and what we would like to do most if we became free to do what we wanted to do.   FBR096

Lord, may the secret thoughts of my heart be pure thoughts, pleasing to You, completely under the control of Your Holy Spirit. Amen.

 

Nothing to Be Ashamed Of

Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin….Create in me a clean heart, O God.

—Psalm 51:2, 10

 

Let me venture an opinion here. Jesus was in harmony with nature in this world and I am of the opinion that the deeper our own Christian commitment becomes the more likely we will find ourselves in tune and in harmony with the natural world around us.

Some people have always scoffed at the habits of St. Francis as though he probably was not in his right mind. I have come to believe that he was so completely yielded to God, so completely and fully taken up with the Presence of the Holy Ghost that all of nature was friendly to him….

Brethren, I am not ashamed of his world—I am only ashamed of man’s sin. If you could take all of the sin out of this world, suddenly extract it, there would be nothing in all the world to be ashamed of and nothing to be afraid of. CES075-076

The heart of the Holy Spirit is intensely concerned in preserving us from every stain and blemish and bringing us into the very highest possibilities of the will of God. HS037

 

Sorrows into Blessings

2 Corinthians 4:17

Do you ask how God can make sorrows into blessings? I will tell you. He can

use them to soften the heart. A tender heart is a great treasure. What hard,

unfeeling creatures men and women would become if they had one continual run of prosperity! In health and comfort and plenty, men grow careless about everyone’s interests but their own.

Sanctified sorrow is favorable to humility. God hates pride; He beholds the proud man afar off. Trouble brings the lofty spirit to a true knowledge of itself and helps to lay it in the dust.

Sorrow makes men sympathetic to the sorrows of others. If I want sympathy I go to those who have suffered themselves.

Sorrow loosens our hold on the things of this life. The tendency of the human heart is to settle down and find its happiness in the things of earth. Sorrow weakens the cords that bind us to this world and draws the spirit to seek its heaven in the next. Sorrow opens the heart for the reception of all the blessed salvation of God. In prosperity, men can do without God—at least, many do not want Him. When affliction and bereavements and death come to them, they cry after Him.

Sorrow will work out far more precious things for us in the world to come. Of these momentary afflictions, Paul confidently says: “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all” (2 Corinthians 4:17).

What must you do to turn your trials and sorrows to good account?

Ask God to forgive all the murmuring thoughts and words of the past. Give yourself up fully to obey His every command in the future—live a life of trust. Take hold of your Father’s hand, and believe that He has hold of yours.

Tell Him that in the dark as well as in the light, in joy as in sorrow, you will trust Him to guide and lead you safely home. Sorrow may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning (Ps. 30:5).

William Booth, The Warrior’s Daily Portion