We at St. Paul have much grief to deal with over the last few months. As I find myself looking for comfort and guidance, I would like to share with you my journey as a Pastor who grieves alongside with you. In the October Newsletter, I discussed how Jesus handled grief. For this newsletter, I would like talk about finding the freedom to grieve and showing grief.
Let me start with a scripture from Genesis 50:1-11, concerning how Joseph dealt with his Father’s death.
Finding the Freedom to Grieve
Genesis 50:1-11 (CEB)
50 Joseph fell across his father’s body, wept over him, and kissed him. 2 Joseph then ordered the physicians in his service to embalm his father, and the physicians embalmed Israel. 3 They mourned for him forty days because that is the period required for embalming. Then the Egyptians mourned him for seventy days. 4 After the period of mourning had passed, Joseph spoke to Pharaoh’s household: “If you approve my request, give Pharaoh this message: 5 My father made me promise, telling me, ‘I’m about to die. You must bury me in the tomb I dug for myself in the land of Canaan.’ Now, let me leave and let me bury my father, and then I will return.” 6 Pharaoh replied, “Go, bury your father as you promised.” 7 So Joseph left to bury his father. All of Pharaoh’s servants went with him, together with the elder statesmen in his household and all of the elder statesmen in the land of Egypt, 8 Joseph’s entire household, his brothers, and his father’s household. Only the children, flocks, and cattle remained in the land of Goshen. 9 Even chariots and horsemen went with him; it was a huge collection of people. 10 When they arrived at the threshing floor of Atad on the other side of the Jordan River, they observed a solemn, deeply sorrowful period of mourning. He grieved seven days for his father. 11 When the Canaanites who lived in the land saw the observance of grief on Atad’s threshing floor, they said, “This is a solemn observance of grief by the Egyptians.” Therefore, its name is Abel-mizraim.[a] It is on the other side of the Jordan River.
It is hard to imagine that Joseph’s father Jacob, the father of the 12 tribes of Israel, was 147 years old we he died. However the above scripture
does tell me that experiencing the death of a loved one is a time for mourning no matter how old or young the deceased is and whether or not it was expected or unexpected. It gives me comfort that great men and women in the scriptures set aside time to mourn the loss of their loved ones. It reminds me that mourning is a healthy and natural part of the grieving process.
Also interesting to note is that Joseph wept and mourned for months…..not days! When someone close to us dies, we need a long period of time to work through our grief. Crying is healthy. It is time also to share our feeling with others. These activities actually help to us recover sooner and help us to pick up and go on with our lives. It is important for us to confide in others and seek assistance from family, friends, your Pastor, and professional help. Seek comfort in prayer and grow a deeper relationship with our Creator during this time period.
Allow yourself and others the freedom to grieve over the loss of a loved one and give yourself time……enough time……for you to complete the grieving process. Give it months, not days.
Job 1:18-22 (CEB)
18 While this messenger was speaking, another arrived and said: “Your sons and your daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, 19 when a strong wind came from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It fell upon the young people, and they died. I alone escaped to tell you.” 20 Job arose, tore his clothes, shaved his head, fell to the ground, and worshipped. 21 He said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb; naked I will return there. The Lord has given; the Lord has taken; bless the Lord’s name.” 22 In all this, Job didn’t sin or blame God.
Job has just lost everything, including his sons and daughters. In spite of all this sorrow he does not give up on God. He doesn’t sin or blame God for his plight. I find this truly amazing! Job was a man of faith, patience, and also a man with endurance. He is truly a role model for us even today. How often do we blame God for the predicaments in our life? What is so amazing to me is that Job does not hide his grief at all! He had not lost his faith in God. He let others see him grieve. His own wife told him to curse God and die, but he remains steadfast in his faith. (Job 2:9)
Job’s emotions show that he was human and that he loved his family. God gave us emotions and it is not sinful or inappropriate to express them as Job did. When you experience a deep loss, a disappointment, or some heartache, admit your feelings, recognize those feelings as being healthy response. Admit those feelings of loss to others and allow yourself to grieve.
Next month, I will continue to share scripture readings that might help us on our grief journey. In the meantime dear friends, find comfort in our Lord and Savior and remember the words from James 5:10-11
James 5:10-11 (CEB)
10 Brothers and sisters, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord as an example of patient resolve and steadfastness. 11 Look at how we honor those who have practiced endurance. You have heard of the endurance of Job. And you have seen what the Lord has accomplished, for the Lord is full of compassion and mercy.
My prayers continue to be with all you.