It is defined in Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary as “deep and poignant distress caused by or as if by bereavement.”
Grief is a difficult reality that we will all face at one time or another. It’s a complex topic that’s hard for most of us to even talk about. We experience grief in many aspects of our lives. Whether it’s the death of a loved one, a monumental life transition, the loss of friendships or relationships, or failed expectations. Grief will be present in all of our lives.
So, how do we face grief and navigate it without being overcome by it?
For many, our first response to negative emotions is to bulldoze past them and “move on” without fully processing our experience. Past wounding and religion would often tell us that we have to “suck it up” and “put on a smile” so that we can display God’s goodness is even the midst of our darkest moments.
I believe the opposite is true. Jesus never asked us to smile through the pain or to devalue our experiences by not acknowledging them. In 2 Corinthians 4:16-18, we are instructed “Do not lose heart” and to “fix our eyes on what is unseen” but nowhere are we told to devalue our emotions and experiences and cover them over with pleasantries. In fact, in John 11, Jesus’ best friend Lazarus died. As Jesus stood at the tomb with Lazarus’ sister, Mary, it says in John 11:35, “Jesus wept.”
Even Jesus wept. Jesus was God personified and walking on the earth. He must’ve known that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. Even knowing that his dear friend would live again, the Son of God found it worthy and valuable to grieve for His loss at Lazarus’ tomb.
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet he did not sin.” Hebrews 4:15
Jesus doesn’t just understand our grief on a conceptual level. He understands our grief firsthand because He, Himself, experienced the pain of loss. He isn’t asking us to bring Him our burdens without knowing the weight of them. He knows they are heavy and He knows they are tiring and yet, He still wants to bear them with us.
Jesus said, “Are you weary, carrying a heavy burden? Then come to me. I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis. Simply join your life with mine. Learn my ways and you’ll discover that I’m gentle, humble, easy to please. You will find refreshment and rest in me. For all that I require of you will be pleasant, and easy to bear.” Matthew 11:28-30 (TPT)
Whatever grief you are facing, He cares about it. Jesus sits with us in our grief. He doesn’t leave us there. He understands that in order for us to be able to move past it, we must first mourn that which is causing to grieve. Jesus sympathizes with us in our weaknesses and has experienced everything we experience. Therefore, He understands our grief and our suffering and has compassion and empathy for us in the midst of it.
I encourage you to allow yourself to face your grief. All grief is valid and the only way out of it is through it. You don’t have to face it alone. Holy Spirit is our comforter and He wants to embrace you and bring comfort to you in the midst of your pain. You don’t have to do anything to experience His comfort other than invite Him into the mess. He wants to meet you there.
The next time you are faced with grief, remember, even Jesus wept.
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