God Wants You to Grieve

Sometimes, life hurts.  Bad things happen, even to the most Godly people. Loved ones die; houses burn; vehicles get wrecked; other people say hurtful things. Sometimes, we even bring pain upon ourselves by behaving foolishly—or at least feel like we brought the pain upon ourselves.

And it really does hurt, and we want to grieve and mourn. And then, along comes someone with a big, cheesy smile. “Jesus wants to give you joy!” Or they briefly sympathize with you, and then try to cheer you up, and encourage you not to “wallow” in “self-pity”.

Make no mistake, joy is definitely one of the fruits of the Spirit, and the joy of the Lord is our strength. But in the Beatitudes, Jesus also gives us the permission to mourn—in fact, He encourages us to mourn.

Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. (Matthew 5:4)

As I studied this verse, God showed me a powerful concept: God blesses those who mourn, not those who paste on a smiling face and pretend that everything is okay. God wants us to process grief and not be afraid to mourn.

God wants us to feel our feelings. It is not wrong to be sad and unhappy, to mourn and grieve. God does not expect us to immediately bounce back from tragedy with smiles on our faces.

When we pretend that everything is okay and refuse to mourn or otherwise acknowledge our true emotions, can God truly bring healing? Does He fix something that we are trying to deny even exists? Actually, He is probably working behind the scenes to help fix our problems. However, until we acknowledge and express our pain and suffering, God cannot comfort us.

And pain does not go away when we ignore it. It sits below the surface, driving us to act and think in unhealthy ways. No, denial is not the cure for pain. Pain needs to be healed.

As I look over the Beatitudes, one thing that I find interesting is that all the blessings on this list come from God. They are all things that God does, not that we do. We are the ones who are poor in spirit, meek, hungry, pure, etc, but God is the one who gives the rewards or benefits. It fits in with what we saw in the last post: that God wants us to rely on Him and not look to our own strength.

In this particular verse, we see that God wants us to rely on Him for comfort. Generally, it is in the hard times of our lives that we grow closer to God. He comforts us according to our specific need, and in the process draws us closer and teaches us more about Himself.

Hope and joy in the Christian life do not come by ignoring problems, stuffing our feelings, or putting on a happy face. True hope and joy only come by God putting them into our hearts. Galatians 5:22-23 says, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law.”

You and I can no more create the joy of God in our hearts than we can save ourselves. Can we act happy? Sure. Can we try to look on the positive side of life? Sure. But if something is a fruit of the Spirit, we cannot create it on our own strength. It’s something that God has to give us through the Holy Spirit.

God tells us, “Rejoice with those who rejoice. Weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:15) When others are hurting and grieving, it is not only callous and unkind to tell them to get over it or imply that they should, it is disobedience to God who has told us to weep with those who weep. Throughout our lives, we will meet many people who have much to mourn. We must allow them to do so. It is a necessary thing.

So don’t be afraid to feel what you feel. Don’t be afraid to express your true emotions. And don’t be afraid to seek your Heavenly Father’s comfort.

For more on this topic, I highly recommend the book Suffering and the Heart of God by Diane Langberg.

The Significance of Christmas

It’s Christmas Day. We’re celebrating the coming of Jesus. The King of Kings who, though He was equal with God, and was God, laid aside His Heavenly splendor—even His very maturity—and came to earth, not even as a man, but as a helpless baby.

Imagine that for a moment. Imagine being a king who owned the entire world and everything in it, and then imagine shrinking down to almost nothingness again, to be implanted in the womb of a young woman.

But not only that. For all your prior existence, you have been served like no one else. You have been waited on by millions of angels. And now, you have to serve. You become a small child who must submit to his parents. Few people do anything for you.

And not only that. You have come with a mission. You are going to love these people. Teach them the truth. Heal their sicknesses and diseases. Gain a huge following. And then be condemned and killed in one of the most barbaric methods possible.

And in that death, you will carry something that no one can imagine: the sins of the whole world. Your loving Father will forsake you. You will die an agonizing death under the weight of your cruel burden—a burden so great that you will agonize for hours beforehand at the prospect, and die of a literal broken heart.

But you will not only carry the sins of the world to that cross. You will also carry something else: their pain. Their hurts. Their griefs. Their sorrows. And you will nail it to that cross and kill that pain, that grief—on your shoulders.

This, of course, after you suffer your own share of woe and sorrow. You will start your ministry and your own family won’t believe. You will be led by your father to the wilderness to be tempted by your worst enemy for over a month, surrounded by wild beasts. You will heal many people and attract great crowds—only to have them leave you when you say some things that they don’t like. You’ll be betrayed by someone who you hand-picked to be part of your ministry, denied by one of your staunchest disciples, and forsaken by the rest in your darkest hour.

But then, when you return to your heavenly palace, yet in an indescribable way remain with those you love, you can say: “I know exactly how you feel. I have been there too.”

“I, too, suffered the pain of being forsaken by all who I loved.”

“I, too, experienced the hurt of being rejected by my own family.”

“I, too, was homeless and hungry.”

“I, too, was strongly tempted to sin by the Devil himself.”

“I, too, was misunderstood and reacted against by those who should have understood.”

“I, too, was stripped of my clothes, and I was hung up for everyone to gawk at.”

“I, too, was beaten and suffered abuse.”

“I, too, was a human, exactly like you. I can totally identify with how you feel.”

And that, brothers and sisters, is the significance of Christmas. It’s the story of a loving God who came, not merely as a human, but as a human baby, that He might experience everything that a human experiences. That He could be, not only like us, but one of us. Sinless, yes. Divine, yes. But still one of us.

And not only one of us, but one with us, that when He judges the world, He can say:

“What you did to this person, who is my brother or sister—you did it to Me.”

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honor; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the Captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

For both he that sanctifieth, and they who are sanctified, are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, “I will declare thy name to my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise to thee.” And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again, “Behold, I, and the children which God hath given me.”

Since, then, the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them, who, through fear of death, were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham.

Therefore in all things it behooved him to be made like his brethren; that he might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.

For in that he himself hath suffered, being tempted, he is able to help them that are tempted.

(Hebrews 2:9-18)

Merry Christmas!