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INTRODUCTION:

 

Grief is one of the strongest of human emotions….and one with which Christians often struggle because to grieve can seem to be - to some - a denial of our faith and trust in God; especially if the grief is the result of bereavement. The death of a loved one is not the only cause of grief. Any experience of loss can produce a grief response. Divorce, termination of employment, children leaving home and becoming independent, the loss of a limb in an accident. These can all cause a person to grieve.

 

[1]   JESUS AND GRIEF

 

Read Matthew 14/6-14.  This passage records Jesus' response to the news of the death of his cousin, John, who was just 6 months his senior. 

 

What do you learn about the way Jesus handled his grief? (v.13)  What can we learn from this in the way we should grieve or relate to others who are grieving?

 

Read John 11/32-44.  The shortest verse in the Bible - v.35 - is amazing in the way it so simply simply portrays the humanity of Jesus.

 

Even though Jesus knew He would raise Lazarus, He still wept. Why is that so and what can we learn from this example? Why do we still hear people say at funerals "There now, dear, don't cry."?

 

Read Luke 19/41-48.

 

Here we read that Jesus "wailed" over Jerusalem and the opportunity that the inhabitants had forfeited - their great loss which Jesus realized but they didn't.

 

Notice how Jesus expressed & verbalized the pain of His grief for Jerusalem. How do we feel when grieving people want to talk about their grief? Do we encourage them and listen or do we try to re-direct the conversation?

 

Is there any link, do you think, between the grieving words of vs. 42-44 and the decisive action of vs. 45,46?

 

Read Matthew 26/36-38.

 

Jesus now faces the grief of His own death. But notice that He seeks companionship. He is not a 'loner' who doesn't need others at such a critical time. What does this tell us about the importance of relationships? Can you think back to a time of grief in your life when you were grateful for other people to walk with you in the grief experience?

 

[2]   SIGNS OF GOOD GRIEF

 

a.  Shock - the 'feeling' systems shut down for a time - emotional anesthesia & numbness

 

b.  Release - tears flow freely and, sometimes, unexpectedly

 

c.  Depression - sense of emptiness, disinterest, relational distance - including God?

 

d.  Guilt - if only we had said more, done more (or said and done less?)

 

e.  Anger - at sense of loss or, in some cases, injustice - need to blame

 

[3]  SIGNS OF 'BAD' GRIEF

 

a.  Denial - not so much denying the grief-producing experience but denying the grief itself.

 

b.  Nurturing the Grief - becoming a "permanent resident" within the grief rather than passing through it (e.g. maintaining the deceased persons room exactly as it used to be - treating it like a shrine with all the associated memorabilia.

 

c.  Long Term Guilt - festering, septic guilt that does not accord with the realities of the grief-producing experience. (e.g. blaming oneself for words and actions that, in reality, had nothing to do with the event or experience)

 

d.  Long Term Isolation - relational withdrawal that initially was needed but now becomes more permanent than temporary.

 

CONCLUSION: Jesus is described in Isaiah 53 as "a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief". We can find no greater companion in our experiences of grief than our Lord.
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